“Confounded reviewers attempted to categorize The Books’ music as electro-acoustic sound collage, laptop, glitch, folktronica, cut-up indie bluegrass etcetera, but we prefer to think of it as blipworld/fakegrass/speedblues/chamberlick/eccentrock/countryandeastern/glitch postanything music with samples.” —Musicaobscura.com
Cult-band duo The Books are hard to define. Cello, guitar, bass, samplers, and a collapsible movie screen are all part of their live sets in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater on Friday, April 27, at 8 and 10:30 pm, with opening act Rich Remsberg’s Common Pictures. Created from a growing collection of found field recordings and lost film/video clips, The Books’ performances employ richly varied palettes of sounds, textures, and influences. Scavenged from the immediacy of old-time folk through wonderfully twisted Americana as well as the complexity of modernism and the building blocks of language, The Books grow their music organically by association and serendipity, full of silence and space, humor and absurdity.
The Books’ story began in 2000, when Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong met through a friend in New York City. Sharing similar interests but different backgrounds in acoustic music and found sound, Zammuto and de Jong experimented and plunked away with sound. Eventually, with some urging by Tom Steinle of Tomlab Records, they created what would become their debut record, Thought for Food, in 2002. Within a year, The Books relocated to Hot Springs, NC, and recorded and released The Lemon of Pink. With favorable word of mouth and critical buzz from the first two records, The Books relocated again in winter of 2004 and recorded in an old Victorian home in North Adams, MA. With the release of Lost and Safe in April 2005, The Books prepared to tour with their unique blend of samples and acoustic music. Awarded Best Recording in 2005 by WIRE magazine, Lost and Safe marks a new and beautifully strange stage in the evolution of 21st-century acoustic-electronic music.
Rich Remsberg is a photographer and archival image researcher working mainly on documentaries for PBS, including American Experience and American Masters. Described as “eloquent photography” by the New Yorker, Remsberg’s book, Riders for God: The Story of a Christian Motorcycle Gang, has found an audience from Harvard University to the Texas prison system. His photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek.com, and The Christian Science Monitor. He has served on the faculty of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center Field School and received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in North Adams, Massachusetts, with his wife, Lisa Nilsson.
Tickets to the Books are $16 ($13 Walker members); and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.