Left to right: Nick Zammuto, Paul de Jong
|Origin||New York City, New York, United States|
|Genres||Folktronica, experimental, sound collage|
|Labels||Tomlab, Temporary Residence Limited|
Paul de Jong
The Books were an American duo, formed in New York City in 1999, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong. Their releases typically incorporate samples of obscure sounds and speech with acoustic instrumentation. They have released three critically acclaimed albums on the German label Tomlab, and released their fourth studio album, The Way Out, on Temporary Residence Limited in July 2010.
The Books were an American duo, formed in New York City in 1999, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong. They released four albums, an EP and a DVD between 2002 and 2010, before breaking up in 2012 and releasing a compilation of all their recorded works.
Zammuto and de Jong had both been involved with experimental music before their meeting in 1999... Thought for Food was released to great critical acclaim, followed by The Lemon of Pink... released Lost and Safe in 2005, named Wire's best album of 2005. Toured heavily between 2005 and 2007, hiatus, The Way Out in 2010. Broke up in 2012, citing other projects or something, with Zammuto starting a new band entitled Zammuto.
Their sound is this that and the other. Their live show has visuals etc. Universally acclaimed according to Metacritic, critics generally praised The Books for their distinctive sound or whatever.
1999–2003: Thought for Food, The Lemon of Pink
Zammuto and de Jong first met in New York City in 1999 as they shared the same apartment building. De Jong invited Zammuto to dinner at his apartment, where he played him some of his collection of audio and video samples, including a Shooby Taylor record. Zammuto said of their meeting that "we both kind of knew at that moment that we listened (to music) in interesting ways and had similar approaches to music." Soon after, they began playing what they considered to be pop music, in comparison to their own works, under the name The Books.
In 2000, The Books started work on what would become their debut album Thought for Food. Zammuto and de Jong moved locations constantly during this time, recording in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and finally in the basement of a hostel in North Carolina where Zammuto worked for a while after hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Thought for Food was released on October 22, 2002. Praised by critics for its distinctive sound, it featured extensive sampling from obscure sources coupled with mostly acoustic instrumentation.
Shortly after the release of Thought for Food, the band relocated to North Adams, Massachusetts, near where Zammuto had graduated from Williams College in 1999, studying chemistry and visual arts. Zammuto and de Jong began the recording of The Lemon of Pink around this time. Anne Doerner, a guest vocalist on the album, said the process was much more arduous than the recording of Thought for Food, with Zammuto working on the album for five straight months.
2003–2006: Lost and Safe, Music for a French Elevator
In 2004, the French Ministry of Culture asked The Books to compose music for a new elevator in their building. The Books released a Mini CD of this work in 2006, under the name Music for a French Elevator and Other Short Format Oddities by the Books.
On April 5, 2005, The Books released their third studio album, Lost and Safe. Zammuto has a greater vocal presence in this album, and the album was criticized for this change of sound. Aside from this, Lost and Safe was well received by critics. Throughout early 2005, The Books collobarated with the electronica artist Prefuse 73. The Books appear on his album Surrounded by Silence ("Pagina Dos"), and the E.P. Prefuse 73 Reads the Books E.P. collects remixes of material sourced from The Books' albums.
Before starting a three-month tour of North America in April 2006, The Books had played only one concert, in October 2003 at a festival in Chicago, Illinois. Zammuto has expressed apprehensiveness towards touring, but says it is necessary to make a living, given his belief that people downloading The Books' music via file-sharing has put him under financial strain.
2006–2012: Hiatus, The Way Out and break-up
Following the release of Music for a French Elevator, the band took a break from recording to tend to their new families, tour in support of their albums, and pursue some of their own projects, which included Zammuto scoring a feature documentary about the Biosphere 2.
In 2007, The Books released Play All, a DVD of thirteen music videos and three previously unreleased tracks. The Play All videos are composed of found footage transformed into a collage that matches their music. The Books often screen these videos during their live performances.
The Books toured heavily between 2005 and 2007, including two tours in Europe and two Canadian shows. In early 2009 The Books covered the Nick Drake song "Cello Song" in collaboration with José González for the Red Hot Organization's Dark Was the Night fund-raising album.
The Books began working on The Way Out in late 2008. Zammuto spoke of the album's New Age themes in an interview in April 2009, saying they took samples from self-help and hypnotherapy cassettes. When asked to describe the album, Zammuto said "You're getting verrry sleepy." On April 5, 2010, the duo announced that The Way Out would be released through Temporary Residence Limited in July. On April 27 Pitchfork Media began streaming the track "Beautiful People", which Zammuto described as "a three part christian harmony mixed with a sort of euro-disco-trash beat, an orchestra’s worth of sampled brass and lyrics about the twelfth root of two (my favorite irrational number), trigonometry and tangrams". The album was released on July 20.
The Books played the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York, in September 2010 and are currently touring North American tour with the Black Heart Procession. The band had been chosen by Portishead & ATP to perform at the ATP I'll Be Your Mirror festival that they will curate in July 2011 at London's Alexandra Palace.
On April 3, 2012, Nick Zammuto released Zammuto, under the moniker Zammuto.
Musical and visual style
The Books are commonly cited by critics to be of a genre of their own. Zammuto has described it as collage music. Paul de Jong described it as "the new folk music...[w]e make our own instruments, use our own libraries of sound bites while trying to create something universally human." Although they have said that their influences include Nirvana, David Bowie, Roxy Music as well as new wave and classical music, these do not show prominently in their music, though Zammuto was directly influenced by electronic musicians Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. The Books' music usually consists of acoustic instrumentation of folk melodies usually played on guitar, cello, banjo and more, combined with a diverse range of samples obtained from cassettes found in thrift stores, which are digitally processed and edited. They also rarely use a drum kit in recordings and performances, instead favouring inanimate objects like children's toys and filing cabinets, which are sampled and looped. Some observers contend that their music is aleatoric, but Zammuto has disagreed, saying the music is very tightly controlled.
something about visual element (possibly its own category?)
- Thought for Food (LP, 2002)
- The Lemon of Pink (LP, 2003)
- Lost and Safe (LP, 2005)
- The Way Out (LP, 2010)
- Music for a French Elevator and Other Short Format Oddities by the Books (EP, 2006)
- Play All (DVD, 2007)
- A Dot In Time. (Compilation box-set, 2012)
- Richardson, Mark (2002-07-23). "Album review: The Books - Thought for Food". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Mintz, Hillary (2002-06-11). "Album review: The Books - Thought for Food". Published by Dusted Magazine. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Reed, James (2009-04-10). "On the search for sounds". Boston Globe website. Published by The New York Times Company. p. Page 2 of 2. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- Ruttenburg, Jay (2005-04-28). "Aural recipe". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- Bolle, Susanna (2004-03-15). "The Books". Junk Media. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- de Jomb, Paul, and Zammuto, Nick. "About The Books". The Books' website. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- Sarna, Dan (May 2007). "Interview: Nick Zammuto of The Books". Impose Magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "The Books: Thought For Food". HBDirect.com. Retrieved 2009-06-03. [dead link]
- Richardson, Mark. "Album review: The Books - Thought for Food". Allmusic. Published by All Media Guide. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "2008 Keynote speaker: Nick Zammuto". Student Independent Film Festival website. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "Reviews of The Lemon of Pink - The Books". Metacritic. Published by CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Carr, Daphine. "Album review: The Books - The Lemon of Pink". Allmusic. Published by All Media Guide. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Music for a French Elevator EP". The Books website. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
- Gaerig, Chris (2005-04-11). "Playing by The Books". Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- "Reviews of Lost and Safe - The Books". Metacritic. Published by CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
- Madison, Tjames (2006-02-21). "The Books book big domestic tour". LiveDaily. Published by Ticketmaster. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
- "The Books: Information". The Books website. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
- Khawaja, Jemayel (2007-04-24). "Interview with Nick Zammuto". Hate Something Beautiful. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Play All: A DVD of Videos". The Books website. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Film Review-Play All: The Books". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 2009-09-30. [dead link]
- Hall, Tara (2009-05-27). "Jose Gonzalez maps North American jaunt". Livedaily. Published by Ticketmaster. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Zammuto, Nick (2010-04-05). "Temporary Residence!". The Books' Blog. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- Dombal, Ryan (2010-04-27). "New Books track: "Beautiful People"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- Zammuto, Nick (2010-04-28). "Beautiful People". The Books' Blog. Tumblr. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- ATP: I'll Be Your Mirror London
- Ryan Dombal (26 January 2012). "Nick Zammuto Talks About Ending the Books, Starting His New Project". Pitchfork.
- Richardson, Mark (2003-10-08). "Album review: The Books - The Lemon of Pink". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
The Lemon of Pink may sound a bit like this duo's debut, but it also sounds like nobody else. The Books remain more or less a genre of one.
- Darryl Smyers (6 April 2006). "Safe and Sound". Dallas Observer.
- Male, Howard (2006-12-15). "The Books: Don't take us literally". The Independent website. Published by Independent News & Media. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Roots maneouvring". Guardian. 2006-01-27. Retrieved 2009-12-13.
- Zammuto, Nick (2010-07-27). "Chain of Missing Links". The Books' Blog. Tumblr. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- Dainer-Best, Justin (2007-05-01). "Playing with Sound: The Books at First Unitarian". The Bi-College News online. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
They (The Books) make aleatoric music, but that’s the easiest thing to say about them.
- Official website
- Heptachord/1 on Myspace
- The Books discography at Discogs
-  Interview with The Books
-  Interview with Nick Zammuto about his new band and the break-up of The Books