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Books are among the pioneers of the tangle of acoustic roots and digital manipulations known as "folktronica"...... The book by Nick Zammuto and Paul De Jong began in 2000 when they met in New York. He studied chemistry and fine arts before moving to the Big Apple, where he devoted himself to synthetic-organic music and also tried to make ends meet as a cook.
But De Jong has notes in his DNA: a son of musicians, he has played the cello since the age of five, then specialized in the theatre of the absurd, composed soundtracks for ballets and studied music; he moved to New York, studied at the Manhattan School of Music and teaches cello, assisted the ninety year-old pioneer of electronic music Otto Luening.
When her first collages arrive on the desk of Tom Steinle, Tomlab's chief, the adventure for the books officially begins. Invited to release a long-distance scrapbook until 2002, the two work mainly on the street: De Jong divides his time between New York and Holland, while Zammuto, in the grip of a sudden mystical crisis, leaves everything to walk the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia.
Three elements function as skeletons: the acoustic guitar, the violin (or cello) embroidery and the voice fragments. Vocal elements trace back to a very special logic: in "reading, eating, sleeping", for example, on a carpet of acoustic arpeggios and synthetic bells, the voices mark the words "r-e-a-d- e-a-t- s-l-t- s-l-e-e-e-p" and then alternate different sentences of the term "aleatoric" until the main voice explains it:
"Through the digitalization of sounds of thunder as well as the noise of transport, Georgia was able to create eleatoric music," describing the process of creating a phantom of "eleatoric music. I' m a countdown in "All Our Base Are Belong To Them", pierced by loud guitar chords, where the "real" song (the only one on the record) reflects the Floyd "mother".
You think she's pretty?") in a surreal drawing, sent to the slow and wrapped in waltz cadenzas in the duet between guitar and violin. "You have no mother und father.... they left, they went somewhere else"), immersed in a sweet bucolic fahey-style guitar, cello and bass drum by Richard Thompson.
The eccentric carousel of the sound entrance, Thought For FOODS, brings the library of the Zammuto-De Jong company into the good living room of the underground and makes the miracle of the "Folktronica" cry out. The books may lack little effort for a final synthesis of their "collage", as seductive as it is sometimes dispersive. Encouraged by the unexpected success, the two moved their studios to a small, icy apartment in North Adams, Massachusetts, and began work on their second record, The Lemon Of Pink, which was also released by Tomlab in 2003.
This time, the books' laptops music pervades the history of Japan, from the Middle Ages to the present, and visits it in a gallery with naive sound bars. Microelectronics, strings, strings, voices (in English, Japanese and - once again - Italian) are set in a new song of collaboration, similar to communicating vases of continuous jet osmosis.
In short, depending on your taste, it's the classic "album of maturity" or the first indication of a possible mannerism. It transforms into an abstract cello sketch. The books play with sounds, as Hervé Tullet did with colours in the childrenâ??s book "Pink Lemon" of the same name, and enjoy all kinds of tricks and gagging, moving with a lightness of touch worthy of the best Oâ??Rourke.
In the months of the year they make a female singing appearance (in Italian) (the restless cello Sonata of "S Is For Everysing"), they place in the hand of a cymbal the (initially) national score of "Tokyo" (on which even the voice of a Japanese) air carrier can be heard, This is the most composed "Don't Even Song About It", in which the crazy spirit of Will Oldham wanders between chords, echoes from westerns and visate cellos.
The Lemon Of Pink, a jewel of popular Dadaism, is the perfection of a project that was born almost like a game and in recent years has become one of the most sensational "cases" of the indian scene. Meanwhile, Zammuto and De Jong continue to expand their library with found sounds and instrumental recordings.
The Books then perform their first concert together with Whitehead at the Third Coast Audio Festival in Chicago (October 2003). â??North Adamsâ icy apartment for a more inviting Victorian homeâ??, back in Massachusetts, the two pioneers of folklore continue with Losst And Safe (2005), the hybridization of traditional acoustic instruments (cello, guitar, mandolin, banjo) and electronic devices.
The result is 11 tracks that, when they lose something refined and unpredictable, nevertheless manage to preserve the freshness of a formulation that ran the risk of showing the rope in the third test. Here the books drive with a nacelle for "Venice", exotic souvenirs that concentrate on asynchronous dialogue-language music, with many stolen sentences in Italian ("so, more there"), warm beats and applause championships.
Animation of the enigmatic Mr. Map is made surreal by percussion ("An Animated Descriptions of Mr. Maps"), while "If Not Now, Whenever" even features the ringing of a telephone to counterpoint guitar and vocals. Sometimes the books sound like the glimpse version of Simon & Garfunkel ("Smells Like Content", a kind of acoustic serenade, or the last ballad at the top of the voice of "Twelve Fold Chain").
This tendency to soft sounds returns in "Vogt Dig For Kloppervok", where a string introduction leads to a selection of different glitter, with a guitar arpeggios trying to maintain a minimum course in a sea of treated voices, percussion ticks, doors opening and closing.
The scissors of the books manage to cut even a possible piece of rain ("Be Good To Them Always") into small pieces and turn it into a video game to slow down for sampled voices, jumping percussions and keyboard dizziness, and the lyrics are no less mocking: "Oh, how sad we humans are misled by our own imagination," says a verse.
The repertoire of the duo's tricks is still broad, but perhaps suffers from a lack of "more musical" support. Paradoxically, the attempt to bring to life an album of " songs ", a kind of " singer-songwriter " is the least successful aspect of the record. In the meantime, the books are working on the preparation of the show that will go on tour (which will include both musical performances and collections of sounds and videos) and will be commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture to create a soundtrack for elevators that have already been renamed "elevator music" as a tribute to "memory".
To encounter the post-folk of books is like sinking into a long "stream of consciousness", sometimes serious, sometimes purely mocking. Like any decent puzzle, it requires patience, curiosity and the power of observation, but in the end he succeeds in rewarding the listener and leaving a smile on their lips, because of this subtle (self-) irony that has always guaranteed the two of them not to turn into a cerebralism of dissection of (musical) corpses.
And then it's just music that you have to listen to in order to feel safe when you're lost. After a five-year break, packed with changes in the lives of the two owners of the Books brand and accompanied by a difficult arrival on the Temporary Residence label, the 2010 release sees the return of The Way Out, an innovative record that offers a new declension of the usual amount of sounds, samples and melodic fragments.
But in The Way Out, the organized chaos of books begins to show the rope by crossing the thin line that separates the completion of a work from an intellectual exercise for its own sake. And this is ultimately an albums that likes to play with sounds and styles, whose mission seems to be to sketch subliminal messages and not to offer a finished and coherent product, albeit in the swirling diversity for which the previous works were anything but incidental.
Surreal, pleasant in its own way and certainly capable of attracting attention, The Way Out returns the books of a kind of manipulation that is artful, but equally self-referential, pale attempts to reposition (de)construction only for short stretches that can give meaning to too complicated a jigsaw to be reduced to mere aesthetics.