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Something Is Happening That Is Not Happening At All.
September 8, 2011 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Observe a classy penguin. It's worth it. Take time. If you don't expect something big huge and exciting, usually, um...

These are some videos by The Books, a couple defected physicists who stumbled into a music career in the underground. The videos were made to go with their live show, where they were afraid audiences would just be bored of a couple guys playing guitar and cello alongside a mostly-electronic album. Can you spot the Alan Watts?
posted by kaibutsu (30 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Needs more penguin.
posted by p3t3 at 9:24 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Lovely. Thank you.
posted by booksarelame at 9:34 PM on September 8, 2011


sweet. lovely.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:34 PM on September 8, 2011


This´╗┐ is a nod to Penguin Cafe Orchestra? Surely.
erikadankeri 1 month ago


Bingo. I'd be tempted to say something more along the lines of 'blatant ripoff,' but yes, definitely.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(A beautiful, worthy ripoff. But still.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 PM on September 8, 2011


this made me feel strange but i liked it
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:43 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know I'm supposed to like The Books. They're intelligent, talented, thoughtfully weird musicians and all my friends are totally enamored with them. But no matter how many times I give them a try, their music still sucks. I can't figure out why.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, I hadn't heard of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra before. Currently listening to Perpetuum Mobile and really enjoying it. Thanks, Sys Rq!
posted by kaibutsu at 9:47 PM on September 8, 2011


This is the song I was reminded of.

"Smells Like Content" (the "um" link) has a definite Jane Siberry thing to it, too.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:57 PM on September 8, 2011


I guess what I'm getting at is The Books have good taste and play good music and I should maybe listen to them more.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:04 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very nice, I'd never heard of The Books before. Thanks!
posted by hackwolf at 10:22 PM on September 8, 2011


I thought the music and the videos were both horribly boring.

Musically, the songs don't seem to go anywhere.. they're pretty much the same thing the whole way through and the videos match that. Random snippets of old home videos that people probably threw away because they were boring home videos of random crap.

But that's just like, my opinion, man.
posted by j03 at 10:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Penguin Cafe Orchestra track the first link reminds me of the most is Music for a Found Harmonium. It's beautiful.
posted by Nomyte at 10:45 PM on September 8, 2011


All that said, if you like The Books, you might like a band from my hometown: Collections of Colonies of Bees. They have a bit more song dynamics and movement if those things are important to you.

I could be wrong though.
posted by j03 at 10:46 PM on September 8, 2011


Nice to see Abraham Zapruder branching out into music videos.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:02 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


But no matter how many times I give them a try, their music still sucks.

But that's just like, my opinion, man.

Your favorite band sucks, etc etc. But thank you for sharing your negativity!

I've loved The Books for many years, though I haven't kept up with them recently. I will have to check out their more recent material. (As an aside, has anyone else experienced that phenomenon where you love a band but grow fatigued and unable to follow their later efforts, with no apparent connection to the quality of the later output? Just curious.)

"Take Time" and "Tokyo" are definitely personal favorites. There's apparently no official video for the latter but this is quite nice.
posted by Barking Frog at 12:57 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Take Time and Tokyo are my favourites too, The Lemon Of Pink is imho their best album...
posted by ts;dr at 1:23 AM on September 9, 2011


Usually I am totally unmoved by the nostalgia people seem to attach to babies and children, but something about this is really beautiful.
posted by Mooseli at 2:55 AM on September 9, 2011


I thought the music and the videos were both horribly boring.

Hey, I was hoping for a thread on these guys.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:10 AM on September 9, 2011


I thought the music and the videos were both horribly boring.

See a physician right away.
posted by mediareport at 4:40 AM on September 9, 2011


The way the textures of the super-8 clips and video bits were threaded together by the music reminded me of a lovely quilt. The nature of memories can be patchy and episodic but life flows along. Nice. Didn't think I'd like this, but I did, a lot. Thanks... can't wait to check out the others (after work).
posted by kinnakeet at 5:08 AM on September 9, 2011


A lot of the footage from the videos were apparently found in thrift stores and garage sales; so they went through piles and piles of found footage finding interesting moments and then spliced them together into films. (And did quite a good job of it, imo.)

I'll agree that Lemon of Pink is probably the best album. There are some nice things on the new one, too; the first+last tracks are kinda hilarious.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:39 AM on September 9, 2011


The Books are really great. If you have a chance to see them live, do so, and I say that as someone who has no interest in live music.
posted by Legomancer at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2011


Yeah, my girlfriend took me to see them earlier this year at the Ft. Worth Museum of Modern Art. I'd never heard them before, and while their music doesn't interest me in the slightest (i've still never heard their recordings) their live show was very nice. The atmosphere of the venue was among the worst I've over seen music played in - think stuffy corporate training seminar - but I got totally lost in the performance. It kind of invoked the feeling of sitting in the sun by a gently babbling river for an hour. Very pleasant.
posted by item at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2011


I hadn't heard of The Books before. Now I have. This makes me happy. Thank you, I needed some happiness today.
posted by tr33hggr at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2011


Nice to see Abraham Zapruder branching out into music videos.

Would have been sooner, but the Presidents of the United States of America turned him down.

posted by zippy at 8:11 AM on September 9, 2011


The Books are really great. If you have a chance to see them live, do so, and I say that as someone who has no interest in live music.
Ha! I was coming here to say the very same thing, Legomancer.
posted by soplerfo at 11:48 AM on September 9, 2011


Out of the several hundreds of bands I've seen perform live, The Books are the only ones to have ever done a second encore. House lights turned on and everything, people just kept cheering. They gave the crowd a hard time when they came back out because with number of samples they use they were running out of music they could play live.
posted by JackarypQQ at 2:13 PM on September 9, 2011


A while back I randomly stumbled across The Books via some music podcast out of California that got linked to from, well, probably from here because that's where I find out about things that are on the internets these days, and I bought an album or two and was really enjoying this wonderfully obscure and bizarre thing I'd discovered.

And one day I played it for a friend and told her the whole story about this wonderful obscure thing I had discovered and she listened politely and then said, umm, yeah, that's Nick, he lives about twenty minutes from here, didn't you know? and later I went to see them perform at MassMOCA (which is also twenty minutes from here, but in the other direction) and it turned out she along with a half dozen of my other friends were in the video part of the show.

Apparently Nick is a really nice guy. He's never invited me to be in one of his videos though.
posted by ook at 8:39 PM on September 9, 2011


The Books were the source of my greatest live music fan-boy experience evar. I travelled to a tiny ex-porn theatre venue, in a little backwater town where I stayed in a run-down hotel with a bunch of farm hands who were staying overnight, for a last-minute-announced gig that I watched with about 40 other people.

The year before I'd met a Portuguese neuroscientist outside New York who started rabbiting on about how her boyfriend was in a band. I kind of ignored her, thinking "yeah your boyfriend is in some crappy band", until she turned to another friend and started talking about the Lemon of Pink. I don't know who was more surprised -- her, that I actually knew of this obscure arthouse sample group; or me, that she was dating one of them.

I watched their gig, alone (I couldn't convince anyone else to join me), and went back to my farm-hand-filled hotel with a smile that couldn't be wiped off my face. The smile was still there when I got up for breakfast the next morning. The "fan-boy experience" part really kicked off when Paul (the cellist) and his girlfriend walked in to the room and we ate breakfast together. They'd been staying in the same hotel before driving on to continue the tour.

Their music is great, and they're super friendly people too. I'm really happy that they're releasing again after a few years' break.
posted by FrereKhan at 7:26 AM on September 13, 2011


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