The Shell That Speaks The Sea

I first met David Toop some 20 years ago. I think we were in touch shortly before that, but our first meeting took place when I invited him to Australia to perform and to speak as part of REV, a festival held at Brisbane Powerhouse. It was a memorable meeting, I vividly remember his solo performance and the edition A Picturesque View, Ignored, documents an improvised meeting during that time.

Over the years, David and I have shared an interest in both the material and immaterial implications of sound (amongst other things). Moreover we’ve connected many times on matters which lie at the fringes of how we might choose to think about audition, our interests seeking in the affective realm that haunts, rather than describes, experience. The Shell That Speaks The Sea very much resonates from this shared fascination.

I’m not exactly sure when we first mooted this duet, but I sense its initial trace is now more than a decade ago. I tend to live by the motto of ‘right place, right time’ and I believe David likely also subscribes to this methodology. A couple of years ago, David and I reignited the duet conversation and began exchanging materials. As a jumping off point, I explored a series of field recordings that, for me at least, captured something of this affective haunting that I mentioned previously. 

One such recording was of a Tawny Frogmouth at Nugum (White Rock) on the lands of the Yugarabul people. The frogmouth is an utterly elusive creature whose voice is like a modulating low frequency oscillator. They are a magical bird, and like the Potoo, have captivated David and I at various points in our lives. The recording seemed to suggest a whole way of approaching sound and, for me at least, it opened an entirely new range of sound worlds which are present in the final version of this recording.

This edition is the product of spontaneous burst of exchanges, buffered by periods of tempered silence. A patient work, charged with unexpected dynamics. 

It’s with great pleasure we share this recording with you.