Beautiful bits and bytes
The Books’ past albums featured field recordings set to sparse acoustic ramblings (2002’s debut, Thought for Food) and sprinkled amongst the band’s own nonsensical wordings (2005’s Lost and Safe). On The Way Out, their fourth and most dazzling work to date, the duo strikes an ideal balance between found-sound collage and original vocalizations. Singer Nick Zammuto occasionally chimes in to pay tribute to the mathematical relationship between musical notes (“Beautiful People”) and mourn nature’s cyclical tendencies (“We Bought the Flood”). But with its greater use of soundbytes, The Way Out also dances and sighs to the beat of human nature; fidgety percussion enlivens “A Cold Freezin’ Night” and dial tones reverberate as if racing through telephone lines, sending out a lonely man’s voicemail to the Virgin Mary on “Thirty Incoming.” In their vivid interpretations and re-interpretations, The Books have cobbled together a soundscape of not only the English language, but the entire universe.