The Books Come to Princeton; Or, How Steno Got Its Groove Back

Until recently, there was in my mind no conceivable relationship between Hebrew stenography and funk. Then The Books came along and everything changed.

The Books are reading the books!

Hey check it out The Books are reading the books!

The Books are an experimental musical duo, and on Tuesday afternoon they delivered a hilarious and hyper-intellectual presentation as part of the Music Department’s Composition Colloquium Series. This is their second appearance at Princeton in the past year — they played a hypnotizing set at Terrace last fall — but this time around there was less “let’s play our music” and more “let’s talk about how we make our music.”

These guys are critical darlings of the indie world: unsurprisingly, they were greeted by a room chock full of flannel, stubble, and horn-rimmed glasses, largely of grad student origin. And when I refer to The Books as experimental I mean that very seriously. Together they gather bits of found sound and assemble minimalist “sound collages” — a process that cellist Paul de Jong called a “harvest, a social-cultural farming.” (Gotta love the hyphenated abstractions — no wonder so many grad students showed up for this talk.) His partner in crime, guitarist/vocalist Nick Zammuto, rattled off tons of vaguely scientific, consistently gorgeous metaphors for their composition process. But first you need to hear it to understand what he’s talking about. They write pop songs at heart, but they might challenge your standard definition of pop song, unless your standard definition of pop song includes “bits of old Black Panther recordings edited and manipulated beyond all recognition.” But they’re good, trust me! Give ’em a listen after the jump.

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