December 3, 2009

Live Review: The Books

The Masonic Lodge // Hollywood, CA // Nov. 23rd

The Masonic Lodge of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery almost seemed to breathe with the weight of its crowd. Scarlet wallpaper, muted lighting and aged mahogany walls that crept to the heavens provided an intimate atmosphere, incomparable to anywhere else.

Anticipation held heavy in the air as everyone anxiously awaited the Books, an experimental duo that orchestrate their own music and visuals. Although there are only two members – Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong – they produce a robust, instrumental sound with sampling and track overlays. Zammuto, on guitar, and de Jong, on electric cello, play along to pre-recorded tracks while clips from various old films are set as their backdrop. The Books bring a new dimension to their songs with the myriad of images they arbitrarily assimilate together, ultimately creating a unified meaning or undertone. “Smells Like Content” was played in conjunction with sad, pre-1930 images; the ethos evoked by the films and the perceptive lyrics silently spoken over the rhythm generated a solemn demeanor like that of a death march.

The Books demonstrate variety in their composition with songs that are solely instrumental such as “That Right Ain’t Shit,” while others such as “Cello Song” feature harmonious vocals that meld into the synthy pops. Showing off their humorous side, one song composed various anagrams from the word “Meditation,” such as the quaint phrase “I Am Ned Tito.” It's hard to portray the scope of this band concisely, the ingenuity of their sight and sound are remarkable and are truly an experience to see live.

-Becky Moine

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