“Dream-like” is an adjective that gets thrown around a lot by music critics. Normally they use it to mean things like hazy, shimmering guitars, maxed-out reverb and ethereal female vocals. I don’t know about you but the term just doesn’t ring true for me: my dreams don’t feel anything like a Galaxie 500 song. When I dream, the atmosphere can be malevolent one second, funny the next; a building can turn into a boat, I can collapse in a heap of dust or fry a harmonica in olive oil. Dreams are weird, man. And if a piece of music gets compared to a dream, it ought to sound like one!
David Toop’s Entities Inertias Faint Beings (from the Australian label/multi-arts organization Room40) is true dream music. Toop, a veteran British composer, professor and author, creates a sonic space where the sands are ever-shifting, where the distant croak of an insect could, in the next moment, take off its mask and reveal itself to be the revving of a motorcycle. Toop’s dream logic is at once subdued and jarring, both opaque and crystal-clear. In it you’ll hear scrapes, buzzing, gongs, sinister crackling, a lumbering beast trying to play guitar (?), a glitchy, digital fireplace (??). Is it calming ambient music or harsh noise? Yes. No. Maybe. Any listener is bound to have a totally unique experience, making it something of an auditory Rorschach test.
In an interview with Rhizome, Toop describes sound as “transitory, ambiguous in its location in space… it’s uncertain; it lends itself to representations of uncertainty.” Listening to Entities Inertias Faint Beings , it’s obvious that Toop relishes this ability sound has to be multiple things at once, to perplex and beguile people. Listen to it now– what do you see in the inkblots?