Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Into The Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom" by David Toop

ISBN: 978-1-5013-1451-3 Bloomsbury
David Toop, for me, is the ideal artist who also writes profound and inspiring books on music culture and its history.   To read any of his books is like having the greatest driver take you to unannounced routes through cultural history.  "Into the Maelstrom..." is a book that addresses the nature of musicians and composers dealing with the issue of improvisation.   The range of artists that are written about in this book is absolutely amazing.  The beautiful thing is Toop was also in the height of the scene during the 1960s - so his views are both personal as well as a history of music being made and recorded throughout the 20th century.  Technically "Into the Maelstrom" deals with improvised music made before 1970 - but reading this, I don't feel the book is contained by an era or a set of years.  It's more about the spirit of making such music, and what it means to its audience/listeners as well as the musicians themselves.  Also one gathers the limits/issues/and politics of making improvised music.  It's not only music, but it is also how humans interact with others, and making art out of chaos.  

David Toop

Toop has an encyclopedic knowledge of literature and music.   What makes him a great writer is that he is able to use those tools to tell a remarkable narrative, but also smart (and entertaining) writer in that he can bounce off one idea from another.   Here in astonishing detail you get the band Cream to Nuova Consonanza (Morricone is/was in this group) to Ornette Coleman and beyond.  Also a focus on Fluxus music making as well as various visual artists/musicians from Europe/Japan.  There are so many obscure artists mentioned, but the great thing there is also a fantastic discography in the back of the book for future investigations.    Perfect book. 


Nuova Consonanza (Morricone)

Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Spontaneous Music Ensemble

Yoko Ono

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