The Books were an experimental pop duo who originated in New York around 1999. Described by principal songwriter Nick Zammuto as “collage music”, they are certainly just that: a conglomerate of literally hundreds of distinct influences from musical genres to instrumentation to cultural reverences and languages. They are a hailstorm of snippet sampling, chopping up archival tapes, interviews, instructional videos, advertisements, movie quotes, birdsong and just about anything else that makes a sound, crafting them into the chaotic yet calculated musings of a creative psychosis (“The Lemon of Pink” being a prime example: http://youtu.be/FC0jSezdwTU). Somehow, with all these variables The Books maintain control, layering on gorgeous acoustic work and whisper-soft melodies that permeate each void like sparkling honey. Zammuto and his band mate, cellist Paul de Jong, are masters of avant-garde instrumentation, looping beats etched into vinyl records, distorting sounds through PVC piping, capturing fan-oscillation sound-waves, and beat-matching the cadence and inflections of whatever field sample is utilized. Watching The Books live performances, it’s obvious Zammuto was having a blast, reveling in his audiences’ appreciation of his bizarre songwriting and quirky video accompaniment (such as that for “Smells Like Content”: http://youtu.be/ZHNArEfBKdc).
In their 12 years, The Books released 3 noteworthy LPs, debut “Thought For Food”, and my two favourites “The Lemon of Pink” and “Lost and Safe”, the latter being in my opinion their best work (and perhaps easiest to follow). The exact details of their parting are not entirely known, but unfortunately it sounds like it wasn’t exactly amicable. Zammuto has since continued working under his surname, with a few catchy tracks to date (try “Too Late To Topologize”: http://youtu.be/GXezRitYvxE).
Favourite track: An Owl With Knees (http://youtu.be/krm1Qmje5gE)… evidently they also excel in stripped-down simplicity.