Release Date: Apr 3, 2012
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Post-Rock
Watching Nick Zammuto at his eco-ranch home in Vermont, one cannot help but be taken by the heartfelt beauty of it all: Here’s the young dad grilling pizzas, playing with his children; there’s his pregnant wife cutting a pie filled with homegrown blueberries. In family and in music, the man once behind The Books is an auteur of authenticity, alternately (and at times simultaneously) wedding opposites: playful and ponderous, analog and digital, organic and synthetic, permanent and ephemeral, fuzzy and foreboding. By repeating and reversing loops, twisting samples and sometimes funneling a sound from a speaker through a PVC pipe into a mic, engineer-wizard Zammuto builds songs that “move forward as they move backward.
Nick Zammuto is the guitar/bass/vocalising half of The Books, one of the last decade’s most original and surprising groups. Earlier this year Zammuto officially announced the duo’s split, which for many (myself included) came as a source of mild regret. Over the course of their four albums The Books created a signature sound that was totally unique, one which can be best described as collage-folk, combining a kind of postmodern cut and paste technique (samples of spoken word and found sounds), with almost pastoral, acoustic instrumentation – guitar, banjo, Paul de Jong’s plaintive cello.
Guitarist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Long crafted brain-pretzeling plunderphonics music for eleven years as the Books. They made crate digging an art form and took it to the next level with the internet. Besides the music itself, it was interesting that all of their highly conceptual albums were completely legal. As most bands do (good or bad), the Books disbanded up earlier this year.
In 1999, guitarist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong combined their talents and old-media sound archives as the Books. Both were AV geeks with honorary degrees in mad science, and together, they became experimental paleontologists of the audio fossil record. They took what John Oswald and Negativland had wrought and rendered it approachably musical, not to mention legal.
ZammutoZammuto[Temporary Residence; 2012]By Colin Joyce; April 5, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGFor a band as bizarre as they were, The Books built a weirdly devoted fan base. Even as the musical climate changed and their integration of sample collages became the status quo instead of outsider music, it seemed that each release was anticipated with bated breath. Even 2010’s The Way Out, with its posthumously-appropriate title, was received relatively well across the board, despite the fact that it was conceived in a time of apparent turmoil between Paul De Jong and Nick Zammuto.
When Nick Zammuto and his wife Molly were preparing for the birth of their first child, they ditched their overpriced Brooklyn apartment for a 16 acre plot of high meadow land in rural Vermont. Zammuto, who “had never used a chop saw, but sort of knew he needed one,” set out to build their dream home himself in the few remaining months before the due date. He described the whole process in a 2010 article in Impose Magazine, and his self educated journey through sustainable design and construction is a fascinating one to follow.
Audio alchemist and one half of the gorgeously fragmentary pop team the Books, Nick Zammuto makes his solo debut with this full-length under his last name. There's a roving chaos to the disc, not completely divorced from the springy shifts of his other band, but definitely a different animal. Album opener "Yay" suggests a logical progression from the lighthearted cutup mentality of the Books with overdriven drums and tremeloed vocals pushing the driving melodies along.
The split of NYC musical collagists The Books earlier this year felt timely, if only in the current climate of The Worsening, in which creativity is underfunded and trampled underfoot. A band that spent thirteen years glitching around at the outer perimeter of pop music is calling it quits? Yeah, that makes sense right now. We're all fucked anyway. Thankfully, Nick Zammuto's self-titled new project largely picks up where the last left off.
It’s easy to forget how funny the Books could be. Started in 1999 by vocalist/guitarist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul De Jong, the duo spent about a decade crafting dense and delicate folk collages built from soft acoustic instruments, spry electronics and a seemingly endless treasure chest of found footage, but beneath the post-modern wonkiness of the project there was a joyous prankster spirit.Far from the condescending “LOL random” internet humor of Family Guy or many found footage blogs, the pair took great pleasure in wordplay and the ability to make connections between seemingly disparate elements. They were excavators, sure, but they brought a sense of humor to their archival spelunking.