The Books, a duo (Nick "Zammuto" Willsher and Paul DeJong) based in New York,
concocted a fusion of folk, electronica, vocal samples and found sounds.
Zammuto had already released on CDROMs an electronic trilogy titled
Solutiore of Stareau, recorded between 1998 and 2000, the third being
reissued as Willsher (Apt B, 2000).
The first Books album, Thought For Food (Tomlab, 2002), displayed
familiarity with avantguarde techniques and an almost John Cage-esque
passion for reconstructing sound in the studio.
Enjoy Your Worries You May Never Have Them Again
is an interesting setting for a psychodrama of sorts, in which the voices
are mixed with the instruments in an apparently childish electroacoustic collage.
Voices are also hidden inside the wavering strings of Excess Straussess,
but no attempt is made at bestowing any meaning on their dialogue.
If there is a statement, it is about the human condition as such, not about
a specific issue.
A mini-jam of traditional jazz surfaces from the casual string plucking of All Bad Ends All.
A violin leads the country litany of Motherless Bastard.
There is a folk lullaby growing inside Getting the Done Job although
little effort is made to streamline it.
But most of the album is an anemic as it gets, rationing sounds and
disconnecting them to the point of non existence.
Dada at least was trying to provoke and be funny. The Books are not trying
anything, just laying down some flow of sounds.
Very little happens in pieces such as Contempt, a typical Books cryptic
All Our Base Are Belong to Them sounds like the random recording of
a party among friends with some amateurish banjo playing, although at the end
the whole coalesces in a guitar-driven singalong.
Thankyoubranch proceeds the other way, with some convoluted guitar
playing that decays into a ghostly space of subliminal drones.
The album is mostly about a different kind of sound art, different in the
way it is laid out and different in what it tries to achieve. What Books were
saying is that there is a point where popular music and musique concrete
intersect, although it is not charted on any map.
The Lemon of Pink (Tomlab, 2003) is even more disorienting, because
the cut-up technique is even more disjointed and the instruments are even more
dissonant. This is, after all, the same solemn demystification of
roots-music preached by
the Holy Modal Rounders in the Sixties,
although transposed from the
hippie civilization to the high-tech civilization. This is the same surrealistic
cabaret of the United States Of America, although
transposed inside a videogame.
Far from being random dadaistic provocation, each montage has its own
emotional dimension, whether it's
the chaotic madness of The Lemon of Pink
(with string instruments and voices occupying the same space but behaving
as if they were unaware of each other)
or the half-sung melancholy of The Future Wouldn't That
or the percussive frenzy of A True Story of a True Love
or the irreverent romp of
That Right Ain't Shit.
Order occasionally emerges out of nonsense.
The whirling collage of Tokyo eventually settles into a quasi-baroque
aria on the guitar.
And there is, as usual, a twisted emphasis on the human voice.
The unstable dialogue between strings (straddling the border between
chamber music and country hoe-down)
and voice samples of S Is for Evrysing exhibits an internal consistence
that almost compensates for the lack of a real story to tell.
The vocal samples are assembled in There Is No There and set to a brisk
country accompaniment so as to reproduce the feeling of a singalong, although
they don't say anything.
Take Time toys with a polyphony of voices.
What is unique about their experiments on the human voice is that the musical
substratum is an amateurish version of roots-music, deliberately left
incomplete, and is mostly coupled with disjointed meditations by the
strings (guitar, violin, cello, mandolin, banjo).
They are cryptic streams of consciousness that dispense with words.
There is something grand and noble to these grotesque proceedings.
As deranged as it is, the Books' sound art is a metaphor for a higher plane
of life the same way that psychedelic freak-outs were a metaphor for altered
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini) |
I Books sono un duo (Nick "Zammuto" Willsher e
di stanza a New York che architetetta una fusione tra musica folk,
samples vocali e found sounds. Zammuto ha anche realizzato su CDROM
elettronica dal titolo Solutiore of Stareau, registrata tra il
2000, la terza parte è stata ristampata col titolo
B, 2000). Il primo album dei Books, Thought For Food (Tomlab,
mostra già familiarità con le tecniche della musica
ed una inclinazione quasi John Cage-ana per la ricostruzione in studio
The Lemon of Pink (Tomlab, 2003) è
disorientatne, perché la tecnica del cut-up è ancor
selvaggia e gli strumenti sono ancora più dissonanti. Questa
la solenne demistificazione delle radici americane predicate dagli
Modal Rounders, ma trasposti dalla civiltà hippie alla
figlia dell'alta tecnologia. Questo è il cabaret surrealistico
United States Of America, ma trasposto
videogame. Ogni montaggio ha la sua densità emozionale, che sia
caotica di The Lemon of Pink e Tokyo, l'irriverenza di
Right Ain't Shit, o le fabule semi-razionali S Is for
True Story of a True Love, Don't Even Sing About It, o il
flusso di coscienza di There Is No There e Take Time.
qualcosa di solenne e di nobile in questi processi grotteschi.
com'è, l'arte dei Books è una metafora per un più
piano vitale nello stesso modo in cui i freak-out psichedelici erano
per gli stati mentali alterati.