When Bob Dylan first plugged in his guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he was met with boos and jeers. The audience could not understand how an artist could make folk music with the aid of an electronic amplifier. The “Electric Dylan Controversy,” as it came to be known, is a prime example of an artist’s need to express himself outside of the strict confines of folk music.Fast-forward to 1999. Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong meet in New York City and, after discovering their mutual appreciation for experimental art, form The Books. Their mix of folk music with electronics becomes their trademark, described by guitarist/vocalist Zammuto as “collage music.” Harvesting a range of unique samples and sounds from cassettes found in thrift stores, the group fused the distinct styles of folk music and the burgeoning electronics movement into what they considered “pop music.”The band has been critically acclaimed for their unique and sometimes surprising sound since the release of their debut album, Thought for Food, in 2002. While this album was recorded by a band constantly on the move — with recording done in New York, Boston, LA and North Carolina — the band finally settled in North Adams, Mass. to record their second album, The Lemon of Pink, which is very similar in style to their debut. However, after this the band began to take some slight stylistic turns. Their next project was an album created for the Ministry of Culture in Paris to be played in the Ministry’s elevator, fittingly titled Music for a French Elevator and Other Short Format Oddities by the Books. This album is a mix of more ambient music, as well as several short spoken word pieces that fit in with the group’s earlier work. Since then, the group has been at work on their newest studio album, the upcoming The Way Out. This album is distinguished by a focus on New Age philosophies, following the band’s recent discovery of self-help cassettes dealing with hypnotherapy. In a Boston Globe article, Zammuto described the album as “You’re getting verrry sleepy.” This album very much follows The Books’ trend, as Zammuto puts it, of looking at American culture from “the fringes.” Tonight, you will be able to experience the sound first hand, when The Books (notoriously rare performers) play live at Cornell Cinema. As has become a staple of their live shows, audience members should prepare for video accompaniment to the music from 2007’s Play All DVD, which features thirteen music videos to already released songs, as well as three previously unreleased tracks. The videos are much in the style of their albums, as the group uses found footage to create collages of images to match their music. The concert will not fail to be a unique musical and visual experience, and will likely serve as an ever-present reminder of how far the definition of “pop music” can stretch.
Original Author: Peter Jacobs