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Album review: The Books' 'The Way Out'

July 19, 2010 |  4:57 pm

The_books_way_out_240_ The Books’ first album in five years marks the most sophisticated collage yet from the audio-ransacking duo of Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong. Culling from 4,000 tapes collected on their last tour, “The Way Out” samples hypnotherapy gurus, answering machine messages, Talkboy cassettes of playfully violent children and other unlikely sources. It’s a meticulous yet absurd work to get lost in, like a labyrinth of shattered mirrors painstakingly reassembled.

On the album’s second track, a series of soothing directives underscored by gentle guitar picking are issued from the lost sages of the New Age. “I am the loop that goes ’round and ’round in your head, flowing warmth,” breathes a woman. “Your body is now a glass container,” a man coos. And, in case you always wondered what to wear to your self-actualization party, one instructs to “put on some undergarments and go deeper and deeper and deeper.”

The recurring motif of throwing off the ego is a fitting one for the Books, who aim to plunge the listener into a near hypnotic state where the detritus of recorded information — found and original recordings — can wash over the listener in one primal wave. The ear may rest on specific pieces, like seashells on the Pacific’s floor, but it’s all part of a vast ocean of sound. It’s folk music for the Digital Age — instead of the needle popping on a dusty field recording, you hear the catch of electronics, an anonymous voice calling out from the slipstream of time.

— Margaret Wappler

The Books
“The Way Out”
Temporary Residence Limited
Three stars (Out of four)


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