July 22, 2010

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The Books, The Way Out
Temporary Residence LLC, July 20
First album in five years from the NPR-beloved duo, whose stock-in-trade is forcing reviewers to punt from their own end zones with the old chestnut “put such-and-so and such-and-so in a blender, set to puree, and voila, I think.” It’s indeed a mixture of… things, pure art-techno with samples, wetwork guitars and such, thus if your adventurousness peters out when faced with even the slightly weird, this will not be your thing whatsoever. For me, though, well, would that I’d encountered these guys when I was starting out as a reviewer, when the weirdest, most underground Mingus-vs.-the-machine stuff would strangely show up in my mailbox out of nowhere — I almost feel uniquely qualified to review this after surviving releases from Leaf Records and similar obscurities, who, compared to The Books, are, I can say it aloud now, completely infantile. These fellers expertly tread a fine line between noise, pop and glitch-ambient; it’s danceable I guess, if you’re certifiably nuts, but whatever, the five years this took to finish were well-spent, for lack of a better term. “Beautiful People” is worth investigating by anyone who could use a laugh (ingredients: samples of two school-age siblings having a hilarious flame war in the back seat of mom’s car while a Primus-like bassplayer goes at it with a Pokemon synth). AEWS