Perfect Sound Forever

OHM- The Early Gurus of Electronic Music

David Toop comments
(April 2000)

The later you come with popular music, the more you feel the influence of electronic music to the point that you feel it so strongly now: the influence of musique concrète for example, the sampling of concrete sounds or techniques like tape editing used by John Cage or the electronic uses of the turntable.  All those things are just commonplace now in all forms of popular music like hip-hop, house or drum and bass. Mostly everything you can think of is influenced in one way or another by different innovations in electronic music.

For me, one of the important things about electronic music is the way in which it created an alternative to performance.  It created another space in which to make music which wasn't dependent on the physicality of performance or let alone the interaction between a performer and an audience.  You could create a piece of music in isolation and then that music could be reproduced and replicated, performed if you like in many, many different situations.  It could be performed in front of an audience or in private.

I think that there's a certain character of electronic music that is totally of the present.  I've always been interested in mixing new technologies with old technologies, acoustic with electronic.  I think there are different psychologies involved, there are different symbolisms involved.  I find it very interesting to mix those.  The main thing is the ability to be in a kind of laboratory situation and create these impossible soundscapes.  That's what's really exciting about electronics.

I think that's one of the things that really appealed to many composers- electronics could do things that acoustic instruments couldn't really do.  In the machine age and with all the new sounds that people came to be aware of at the beginning of the century, they wanted a means to create them, to reproduce them in a controllable situation.  They wanted to move away from the convention of the orchestra and the conductor.

It's the same for me.  Electronics and computers have allowed me to move away from a conventional band situation, where you got four or five people arguing with each other all the time or trying to explain ideas to each other that are very difficult to explain.  I'm not a trained musician, I'm an art student, so to convey certain ideas has always been very, very difficult in music.  If I'm working with electronics or in an electronic studio, or say editing software, then I'm much more in control of the material in terms of what I want to do.  That's never been possible before.  It's a completely new scenario in music.

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Also see our 1997 interview with David Toop, a 2020 interview with Mr. Toop and an excerpt from his Flutter Echo

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