Life on the Inside

David Toop, 2016

David Toop's career has spanned field recording native ceremonies in South America, wild and confrontational improvisation, experimental electronic music and to top it off, he's one of the greatest musical thinkers I've ever read. His writings have delved through the amorphous world and ambiguous histories of ambient music to insightful interviews with Robert Wyatt. Given that, Life on the Inside is a curiously restrained record. The work unfolds with utmost patience. Works like this succeed on their subtlety and sense of balance—it's the musical equivalent of a sumi-e painting. Toop surreptitiously upends your sense of space by dropping highly acoustic events into a purely abstract landscape and shows uncanny timing when to pivot the work. There is never a rigid framework of time visible, but stretches of sustain never overstay their welcome.