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Sinister Resonance

August 24, 2010

A quick whisper of appreciation for David Toop’s new book Sinister Resonance, which I eagerly ingested last week.

Toop’s writing always seems like a gift, absolutely generous in its breadth of knowledge (which makes for a huge contrast with much of the academic writing that I read on similar subjects). His earlier books Ocean of Sound, Exotica and Haunted Weather had a gentle importance in shaping my thinking about music and, more importantly, sound and listening in general. In Sinister Resonance, Toop’s focus is mostly on acts of listening described in the “silent” arts, with plenty of material on seventeenth century painting and nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction. Toop’s approach to these forms is largely similar to my own – that literature, for example, is anything but silent, and that narratives are written into a acoustic atmosphere. As with his earlier works, Toop is concerned with the immaterial, atmospheric nature of sound, and there’s a significant accent on the uncanny and hauntological – throughout the book there are repeated notes of discomfort arising from the ongoing discussion between atmosphere / ambience / outwardness and interiority / privacy. Toop’s investigation into the eeriness of sound-worlds is both creative and disciplined.

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