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The Books, Annotated
August 2, 2010 10:21 PM   Subscribe

The Books is a collaboration between musicians and found sound archivers Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong. If you're not familiar with their music, allow me to recommend giving their newest album, The Way Out a listen over at NPR (where you can no longer stream the album in its entirety, but individual tracks are still available for your listening pleasure). Two videos are already available—the summer camp hit A Cold Freezin' Night and We Bought The Flood, which was 'directed' by archival image researcher Rich Remsberg. Since The Way Out's release Nick has been proceeding track by track through the album, explaining and annotating the techniques, instruments, and ideas used on each song—and resulting in a collage of thoughts as powerful and varied as The Books' collage of sound.

Group Autogenics I - on reorganizing the sound library, what makes a good tape?, and autogenic training.
IDKT - on sampling orchestras and the Hammond M-100 organ.
I Didn't Know That - on cymbals, hi-hats, Hebrew stenography, and a new definition of the word 'funky'.
A Cold Freezin' Night (and again) - on Home Alone 2, the Talkboy, dueling siblings, and how to make a rhythm generator using a 3" speaker, a plastic mirror, and a ballpoint pen (hear a sample).
Beautiful People - on the twelfth root of two.
I Am Who I AM - on the names of God, preacher rhythm, and IDM.
Chain of Missing Links - on the age of Aquarius, the limitations of expression in science, and meditation.
All You Need Is A Wall - on autism, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and using Nigel Godrich's guitar.
Thirty Incoming (first half) (second half) - on answering machine tapes, thrift stores, Nick's dad, polyrhythm, and using drones to build sound.
A Wonderful Phrase by Ghandi - a short interlude on Ghandi's voice.
We Bought The Flood - on synesthesia, Rich Remsberg, the Liberty Bell, and album track order.
The Story of Hip-Hop - on Hip Hop's origins (with the obligatory reciprocal link), Nigel's eBow, and Lymbyc Systym.
Free Translator - on machine translation and The Purpose of The Books.
Group Autogenics II - (tomorrow)

Bonus tracks:
An hour-long session from dublab studios, recorded November 2009 - A Collage Crystallization and
A previous dublab session from a few years back - Found Sound
posted by carsonb (20 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
These guys are great. Plunderphonics at its finest.
posted by Down10 at 10:39 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had forgotten these guys were in North Adams, MA.
I work over in Williamstown in the summers. Anyone have any contact info off-group for a sound designer would like to buy them a beer?
posted by aloiv2 at 10:49 PM on August 2, 2010


Love these dudes. Highly recommend their CD "The Lemon of Pink" if you're looking to get into them.
posted by DZack at 11:16 PM on August 2, 2010


Something is happening, that is not happening. Something is happening, that is not happening at all.

I actually think The Books are incredibly boring but a few of the spoken samples from The Lemon of Pink have really stuck in my brain over the years, for some reason.
posted by anazgnos at 11:31 PM on August 2, 2010


I just bought this last week. Recommended.
posted by jokeefe at 12:16 AM on August 3, 2010


You left out the best part:
"Something is happening, that is not happening. Something is happening, that is not happening at all.
"Sex!"

I just picked this up the other day, more or less immediately after learning it existed. I think it's not their best album, but the notable songs are very notable. The first track is awesome.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:28 AM on August 3, 2010


Seconding Down10's comment. I loved The Lemon of Pink when I was still in school. "There is no There" is a great track. I will have to check out the new album. Thanks for the post!
posted by IvoShandor at 1:40 AM on August 3, 2010


I hadn't seen they had a new album — thanks! The track-by-track looks really interesting... it's especially nice to see them explaining the rationale for using certain samples (I thought it might all be about tape hiss, which would have rather killed the magic for me.)

Incidentally, I really like and would recommend the collaboration they did with producer Scott Herren a few years back, Prefuse 73 reads the Books. The results are definitely less quirky than their own stuff, but it's amazing how well the material works when shaped into a tighter, beat-oriented form. It is also toe-tap-tastic (see 'Pagina Dos') and occasionally even pretty funky (see 'Pagina Cinco'). That last is a summertime favourite of mine.
posted by zygoticmynci at 3:39 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Love the hell out of The Books and have for years. Thanks for this!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:47 AM on August 3, 2010


Thanks carson. These guys are great.
posted by rtimmel at 7:35 AM on August 3, 2010


I like their first three albums, but this new one doesn't do it for me at all.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2010


I saw their live show last fall - amazing combination of sound and visual effects.
posted by hworth at 8:02 AM on August 3, 2010


I LOVES ME SOME BOOKS excellent post.
posted by everichon at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2010


The Books put on one of the best live shows around, in my opinion. And I'm no fan of live music, usually.
posted by soplerfo at 11:04 AM on August 3, 2010


I love the books. Worth mentioning they used to be teachers. My favorite story about them is when they picked a band name, they sent around a survey to their friends with a bunch of possible names. The Books was the least liked, so they chose it, because they like books.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:24 AM on August 3, 2010


The Books put on one of the best live shows around, in my opinion.

Agreed. No idea if they're still doing this but I saw them maybe 3 or 4 years ago and they were playing underneath a giant video screen and were using some kind of foot pedal device to switch video clips as they played ... kind of like a live jam between music and image ... it was fantastic.
posted by mannequito at 12:01 PM on August 3, 2010


I haven't seen them live, but I'm looking forward to it. Nick talks about their live performance on the We Bought The Flood post:
If you’ve seen our live show, you know that video has always been our ‘front man’. Since Windish convinced us to start touring we knew we needed some kind of foil to keep attention moving around the stage so we could focus on the task at hand without feeling like an ant under a magnifying glass. Since then it’s turned into this strange hybrid form of entertainment, somewhere between a concert and a film. We shoot for a kind of synesthesia between the image and the sound by very tightly syncing them tonaly and rhythmically.
posted by carsonb at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2010


Very wonderfully thoughtful blog. I encountered one of the best sentences I've ever read on there, "I’ve learned that it’s bad policy to outrightly dismiss large chunks of human experience". Just a reminder of why these folks share the title of my favorite band, ever.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 3:55 PM on August 3, 2010


Thank you, carsonb, for the posting, as well as to the commenters. I'd never heard The Books, but listened to The Lemon of Pink tonight on MOG. Excellent, beginning to end.
posted by the sobsister at 7:09 PM on August 3, 2010


Yesssss! The Books are fantastic— both live and recorded. Thanks for this.
posted by caaaaaam at 11:21 PM on August 3, 2010


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