8/10 Clinton Staff review, 25 October 2013
Well this is going to be a treasure trove of treats for any fans of The Books. It's a 45 track, double LP, limited vinyl exploration of all their unheard and uncollected B sides including sound installations for the Ministry of Culture in France, an unreleased film score and lots of other detritus.
The opening set of songs exemplify their collage-pop approach intermittently making you smile and want to strangle them. One track consists of people mooing like cows, another has a man saying ‘meditation’ over and over until you want to kill him. Another appears to be sampled straight from Rowley Birkin QC from the Fast Show. Tracks like this are insufferable gobble-de-gook so it's nice when they do decide to pick up instruments. ‘Classy Penguin’ right at the end of Side A is a lovely slice of Lemon Jelly-esque electronic folk, opener ‘Fralite’ is a lovely slice of folky TV advert fodder.
There are some great moments on side B, ‘Frame’ continues the excellent pursuit of chopped acoustic guitars and mournful cello while ‘Happy Lawyers’ is pure Penguin Cafe Orchestra, full of staccato cellos intertwining. Sometimes The Books music has dated, its then-inventive brand of cutting up and digitizing folky guitars into electronica styled pieces was used by everyone for a certain time period then everyone stopped doing it (thankfully). None of this is of course their fault.
They mess about far too much but when they play it straight they hit the nail right on the head, their version of Nick Drake’s ‘Cello Song’ sung by Jose Gonzalez is utterly majestic, stays true to the original yet brings something entirely new to the song. As with any compilation of music made over a number of years its a hit and miss affair but when its good its very good and any self respecting Books fan should be hovering over the ‘buy’ button right now.
YOUR RECENTLY VIEWED ITEMS
- Music For A French Elevator and Other Oddities by The Books
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