The Books -- A musical group ahead of its time
My last update was about a mediocre album. This one is about a group that I am fairly nuts about. They're called the Books. This is the cover of their latest studio release, Lost and Safe (2005). Does the cover look like a piece of shit? Yes. All of their album covers have an ironic crappiness to them that is reminiscent of David Shrigley's art.
But the music... is unlike anything you're likely to have heard before. Basically, the songs are built from dozens of snippets of audio from random sources. Taped conversations, old radio broadcasts, samples of various sounds... they are all pieced together and overlaid with some vocals, guitars, and other instruments. All in all, you could call it "collage" music.
And, as you begin to listen, it hardly sounds like music (this is especially true for their older releases, such as Lemon of Pink). It is bewildering, as your ear struggles to make sense of what it is hearing. It takes a while to acclimatize, but eventually you stop searching for the meaning of the songs (how does this all fit together? what does it mean?) and settle into a cozy spot right on the surface - you just soak in the sound and marvel at the super-crisp production.
It's just about the most postmodern listening experience possible. And though I can't pinpoint where any of the source material came from, each sound byte conjures up vague images. It stimulates (maybe I should even say emulates) my stream of consciousness so much that I find it damn hard to focus on anything else while listening to the songs.
Anyway, they're one of my favorite groups currently, and I recommend them for anyone who really wants to stretch his or her musical mind. Check them out online at their thoroughly unnavigable website.
Of course, it's always more of a joy to listen through some high quality stereo speakers (I highly recommend these, and there are online outlets that beat the manufacturer's price by $80+.