… it’s entertaining any way you slice it. — Transform, USA
A messy, grungy, fist-pumping lo-fi blast… — Montreal Mirror, Québec
Dinosaur Dinosaur is the latest release by Los Angeles based Books on Tape, Todd Drootin’s project dedicated to the style he terms “beatpunk.” The tag is definitely apt as Drootin has gained a reputation for fusing hip hop and electronic beats with the energy and mayhem of punk rock. Dinosaur Dinosaur further cements this style by incorporating more of the rock spirit of his animated live performances. This release comes in a standard jewel case with cover art by Nick Diamonds of The Unicorns.
- Composer(s): Books on Tape
CD (ALIEN 60)
- Label: Alien8 Recordings
- ALIEN 60 / 2005
- Jewel case
- 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
- 90 g
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In the press
Strange, disorienting, and sometimes abrasive electronica. Todd Drootin’s “beatpunk” project, Books on Tape, is back with a new dose of strange, disorienting, and sometimes abrasive electronica. Actually, after listening to Dinosaur Dinosaur a few times, I’m not sure how accurate the term “beatpunk” is; quirk-core might be closer to the truth. There’s definite charm in the low-fi, hyper-quantized, synth-oriented production, but the end result is a style music that owes more to ‘70s and ‘80s avant-electronica than punk rock. This difference is even more marked on here than on earlier releases like 2004’s The Business End EP. Once again, rubbery synths, dissonant soundscapes, and heavily-filtered drums are the order of the day, but on Dinosaur Dinosaur, the veneer of the more dance-floor friendly (if only fleetingly so) beats that graced Books on Tape’s earlier work has all but disappeared under a tidal wave of cacophony. That’s not to say that there isn’t quite a bit to recommend these new, more frenetic, and ultimately denser stylings, though.
Killing Machine and Surly Ambassador are especially inventive both in sound pallate and programming, morphing between a variety of electronic and IDM styles, from drum n’ bass and electro to techno and house. When Siblings Attack is another winner with its hyperactive beat blending and tighly-looped nonsense vocals. Are the ahh-ahh-ahh’s an homage to Aphex Twin or a parody of Amon Tobin? It’s hard to say, but it’s entertaining any way you slice it. If there’s a failing in the programming on Dinosaur Dinosaur, it’s in the tendency for rave-ups to degenerate into the “industrial stomp”: a kind of grooveless four-on-the-floor that sounds more like a skipping CD than a beat. Both Bubblegum and Upon Rock City fall victim to the stomp, but otherwise Books on Tape largely steers clear of this artistic hiccup. The only other real bummer here is album closer Kitten Kitten Kitten Kitten Kitten Surprise, which lets the textures veer so far into the abrasive end of the spectrum – we’re talking dentist’s drill here – that some of the more interesting programming and sampling involved tend to get lost in the screech.
Ultimately though, when it comes to this type of music, a certain amount of tonality gets sacrificed at the altar of originality, and when it comes to envelope-pushing sonic pranksterism, Books on Tape’s inventiveness is unflagging. So if you’re the kind of music fan who still has Duck Stab in daily rotation or for whom Nurse With Wound’s The Sylvie And Babs Hi-Fi Companion qualifies as mood music, welcome home: Books on Tape is waiting for you, wearing nothing but a smile, and the bathtub’s full of warm ketchup.
Ganz schön rockig sind die geworden. Oder hab ich das letzte Album nur nicht mehr wirklich im Ohr? Klar, Lo-fi waren Books on Tape schon immer, aber diese merkwürdige Mischung aus 80er Jahre Wave, Techno-Ideen als die Maschinen noch aus Holz waren und stellenweise etwas gewollt schrägen Melodien ist mir jetzt irgendwie auf die Dauer zuviel. Wenn die sich noch einmal um sich selbst drehen dann klingen sie noch irgendwann wie die Residents im Proberaum. 3/5
A messy, grungy, fist-pumping lo-fi blast from L.A. noisemonger and self-proclaimed “beatpunk” Todd Drootin. Recreating the frenetic guitar strumming and bass-guitar pounding of punk and the head-bobbing pulse of hip hop is nothing new to Drootin, whose previous releases on No Type and Deathbomb Arc exploded the staid preconceived notions of so-called IDM. With a decidedly cheap and energetic aesthetic, Drootin’s live gigs have become likened to watching a mad scientist off his Ritalin. Think Kid606 on cough syrup — fun-filled and furious! 8/10
I am not sure if the Dinosaur… in the title is meant to be the dinosaur band who just released a new studio CD, their first in eight years, but let’s hope that in thirty years time, Books on Tape, will sounds as energetic on his new album. Books on Tape is the beat-punk project of Todd Drootin, from Los Angeles. His previous releases were made available as MP3 as-well as on CD and 10” by No Type. On his new release he offers fourteen catchy tunes of punk inspired techno/hip hop music. They are cut with the speed and energy of punk but all created with electronica. Books on Tape likes to play around with the sounds from organ (or perhaps a plug in thereof), creating a fat tune, throwing in a few guitar samples and the occasional vocal snippet. Not every track is up-tempo, but they are all played with a certain rawness that is not seen often in the world of smooth electronics. It may seem that I think this is all just thrown together, but it’s not: the tracks are made with great care, close eye for detail. It progresses from Sings the Blues, adding more variety to the dish, but maintaining it’s raw power.
On the same label, but something entirely different is Nadja. With the previous release I Have Tasted The Fire Inside Your Mouth, Nadja was still a solo project of the omnipresent Aidan Baker, but now it’s Baker on guitars, vocals, drum programming and Leah B. on bass and vocals. Truth Becomes Death is the first release on a ‘real’ CD. When Baker has his solo hat on, playing his ambient guitar pieces, I am usually (not always) quite pleased, but with the first Nadja that wasn’t the case, and also Truth Becomes Death is not much of my coffee. Let me state I like drone rock, I like Earth, Sunn O))), Troum and all the heavy weight ambient music makers, and to a certain extent I enjoy Nadja too. The slow, spiraling sound of a drum-machine set against the wall of guitars, bass and vocal howls is quite nice, at times. But the sound is too full, too dense, with not much air (and probably intended to be like that, no doubt), but it’s a bit too blurry for me. The details are gone, admits in this vast mass of sound. Not bad, but perhaps not my thing to the extent that I would play this very often.
Friday, March 3, 2006 / In concert