The Books release double LP of rarities: “Music for a French Elevator and Other Oddities”

The Books

If you’re still mourning the passing of cult sound-collage duo The Books: Well, first of all, you really need to get over it. Get some therapy or something. But in the meantime, you can now cry yourself to sleep every night listening to Music for a French Elevator and Other Oddities, a double LP set of B-sides, soundtracks and other Books miscellanea previously only available on last year’s massive A Dot in Time box set. I know, you probably already have a shrine to that box set in your living room—but get Music for a French Elevator anyway. Maybe it will help give you some much-needed closure.

Music for a French Elevator is a vinyl-only release limited to 2,000 copies, and last we checked there are only 154 copies left. So as a late-night informercial that The Books might sample might say: Don’t delay, order your copy now!

In other Books news: Nick Zammuto continues to release a steady trickle of groovy tracks from the forthcoming second album of his post-Books project, Zammuto. And Paul de Jong continues to enjoy his new life as a Christian minister in New Zealand. Kidding! He’s actually been working on a solo show called Mild Stimulants. Here’s a sample.

Here’s a SoundCloud player featuring a few of Nick Zammuto’s favorite tracks from Music for a French Elevator, along with the collection’s full track list.

Music for a French Elevator and Other Oddities track list:

1. Fralite
2. Egaberte
3. Liternite
4. It’s Musiiiiic!
5. The Joy of Nature
6. Meditation Outtakes
7. A Long Villainous Sequence
8. Millions of Millions
9. Of the Word God
10. Ghost Train Digest
11. You’ll Never Be Alone
12. ‘Ah…, I See’
13. Three Day Night
14. Classy Penguin
15. 8 Frame
16. Smack My Bishop
17. Biospheric Quiet
18. Happy Lawyers
19. Hericlitus
20. John’s Arp
21. Foreign Country and Western
22. Dustbowl
23. Biospheric Doubletime
24. Drowned But Survived
25. Pickup Dark
26. Hermetic
27. Circle of Fifths Loop
28. Past Comes Welling Up
29. Electro Lawyers
30. Mars, OK
31. Biospheric Dark
32. Flythrough
33. Running Down
34. 8 Tons of Oxygen
35. 10,000 Crows
36. John’s Epiphany
37. Lawyer Lullaby
38. Hokie Ranch
39. 2over3 Lawyers
40. Glass Glass
41. Biospheric Zither
42. Found Frozen Corndog
43. Cello Song Feat. Jose Gonzales
44. Epilogue
45. Pig


Mourn the passing of The Books with this massive deluxe box set


Well, it’s apparently official: bent pop sound collage artists The Books are no more. Their label, Temporary Residence, is billing a new Books box set as a “perfectly fitting conclusion to one of underground music’s most vital players.” We’ll miss you, guys! Although Nick Zammuto’s first post-Books project has definitely taken some of the sting out of your demise.

Now about that box set: It features The Books’ entire recorded output on seven vinyl records, including a double album’s worth of previously unreleased material; a two-hour DVD of all their videos; a 56-page picture book; and their entire catalog on a cassette-shaped USB flash drive. Oh and there will only be 1,000 copies made. You can pre-order it now from The Books’ label, Temporary Residence, for a mere $150. It’s due to ship “on or around July 15.” You know indie labels, they’re casual like that.

Let’s play this post out with The Books’ take on two of our favorite things: golf and guns. (Although despite watching this video like 59 times, my backswing is still a mess.)

Zammuto, solo project from The Books’ Nick Zammuto, touring with Explosions in the Sky

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The Books‘ Nick Zammuto released the debut album from his solo project, Zammuto, back on April 3rd on Temporary Residence and we were highly negligent in calling out how freaking awesome it is. Called Zammuto, the album definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to The Books’ cheeky sound collage pop, but it’s also got quasi-prog-rock workouts (“F U C-3PO”), Auto-Tuned electro-soul (“Too Late to Topologize”), spacey post-rock (“Idiom Wind”) and more stuff I’m currently enjoying too much to describe. So I’ll just shut up about it and instead leave you with this link to Zammuto’s Soundcloud page, where the album is currently streaming in its entirety.

Nick has assembled a three-piece backing band to help him recreate these songs live, and by all accounts they’re pretty awesome, too. They just wrapped up a handful of dates, but they’ll be back on the road this June opening for Explosions in the Sky. No love for L.A. on this tour (or the last one, even though they played San Francisco and San Diego), but hey, that’s cool. We’ll just be over here feeling sorry for ourselves if you change your mind, Nick.

6/17 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
6/18 Mobile, AL – Soul Kitchen Music Hall
6/19 Tampa, FL – The Ritz Ybor
6/20 Miami, FL – Grand Central
6/21 Athens, GA – The Georgia Theatre
6/22 Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
6/25 Morgantown, WV – 123 Pleasant St.
6/26 Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
6/27 Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium

We’ll leave you with a video of the band rehearsing the track “The Shape of Things to Come” in Nick’s Vermont studio. Anyone know where I can get one of those little fisheye cameras? Those things are rad.

Watch “A Day With Nick Zammuto” mini-doc

(Photo swiped from

Anticipation really seems to be building for the debut album from Zammuto, the new band/solo project from Nick Zammuto, one-half of sound collage mavericks The Books. Just today, Pitchfork gave a “Best New Track” shout-out to “F U C-3PO,” an almost proggy jam with robot vocals and distortion pedals set to stun. And last week, director Matthew Day debuted a short documentary called “A Day With Nick Zammuto” that shows the musician hard at work on his new music and chilling in his amazing self-built house with his wife and ridiculously cute children. We’ve embedded the YouTube version of the film below, or you can watch the original on Day’s website, Naked Musicians.

Zammuto will be making their live debut on Feb. 3 at Mass Moca in North Adams, Massachusetts. If anyone goes, give us a report!

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The Books

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There’s certainly no shortage of artists known for building their music around found sounds, field recordings, manipulated bits of conversation and the like. But something about the way The Books do it is definitely unique and, we think, weird enough to deserve a shout-out.

Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong have been making their special flavor of sound collage music for nearly a decade, but they still manage to fly pretty far under the radar—maybe because they didn’t start touring until 2005, maybe because their name is virtually un-Google-able, or maybe because their music lacks the beats and synthesizers of more hipster-friendly sample-happy acts like Lemon Jelly and Boards of Canada. That might change, however, with the release of the duo’s fourth full-length album, The Way Out, later this year (2010). Early tracks “Beautiful People” and “A Cold Freezin’ Night” are as good or better than anything they’ve ever done, and “Freezin’ Night” has what Zammuto himself calls a “pseudo-techno-dance” beat to it. By Books standards, it’s a jam for the ladies!

The even cooler part of “A Cold Freezin’ Night” is how Zammuto and de Jong assembled the sampled children’s voices that, more than the pseudo-techno beat, are the track’s main attraction. Always on the lookout for new sources of obscure recordings to add to their vast library, The Books have been scouring the thrift stores in search of Talkboys, an oddball recording device introduced in the early ’90s as a tie-in with Home Alone 2. (Macaulay Culkin used one in the movie apparently, although we’re not sure how—we’ve never been able to sit through more than five minutes of that celluloid turkey.) And, well—just check out the video for “Freezin’ Night” below, which was spliced together from old home movie clips also collected by the Books boys. Kids are dark.

By the way, in case you need any further proof that The Books are in fact Weirdest Band material, consider the following: They once created music specifically to be played inside an elevator for the French Ministry of Culture, and one of them plays the cello. We rest our case!