Sings the Blues Books on Tape

Cover art: Kerri Kirchheimer, Todd Drootin

… de la noirceur de l’electro-dub à la chatoyante mélodie simpliste et efficace… Les choses, France

… il offre toute l’intensité et l’énergie de la musique punk. Convergence, Québec

Abusive fastball rhythms. Gratuitous electroid synth lines. Z-movie backdrops. Tape hiss. Chopped vocal samples. Soundtracks to the high-scores table. One-finger sampler tapping. Lush downtempo breaks. Power pop plunges. You name it, Sings the blues has it. Except there’s not really any blues.

This is Books on Tape’s sophomore CD, & what a treat it is! First, this is 100% Todd Drootin: no collaborators were harmed during the making of this CD. And secondly & most importantly, this CD is the first to effectively capture the feeling & essence of Books on Tape’s notorious live shows.

Whether or not you’ve had the chance to witness the boy wonder of the sampler in your hometown yet, open your ears & there is little doubt that you will enjoy this new CD. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s intense, & it’s got flair & it’s got bite. In short, this is Books on Tape at its absolute finest. Todd Drootin is in the house, & he’s not about to leave!

Mastered by Louis Dufort. Licensed to Greyday [GDP 009] for the USA.

  • No Type
  • IMNT 088 / 2003
  • UPC/EAN 771028808823
  • Total duration: 65:37

Sings the Blues

Books on Tape

Notices

Thanks

Todd / Books on Tape would like to thank the decent people of the universe, including, but not limited to: Kerri, Mom, Dad, Stef, Kenny, Nasty (cat at eleven), Drootin, Benes and Kirchheimer families, David T, Aimé, Érick & No Type, Todd B & Greyday, Greg/Sheryl & Piehead, Brian Swirsky & Complete Control, Mike Locke, Aaron & Mental Monkey, Everyone at Fanatic, Cursive, The Faint, The Good Life, Rilo Kiley, Mayday, Chaki (+ Kate), Headphone Science (+ Jen), Captain Ahab, Consafos, Mr Mixel Pixel, Atole, Zug Island, Dick Richards (+ Leah), Bronwyn, Child Pornography, Deathbomb Arc, Wendy Gilmartin, David Cotner, Macc, Neil, Hotdog, Meshel, Meagan, Peter, Doug, Steve, Matt & Cat, Kelli (AE Wright old school bus homegirl!) plus Jordan & Jess (Greencoast), Kara and John, Robert, Priya & Chris, Brian Lavelle, LA Weekly, Vital Weekly, Parlour Club, City of North Hollywood, KXLU, KUCI, KSPC, KPSU, The Smell and The Fold. I also have a special place in my heart for neoconservatives, John Ashcroft’s songs and television preachers! Amen! Kerri gives love to her WSP friends, DJ Isha, Carlos, Sarah, Laurel, Steve, Danny, Brian Boyce (bring me that theremin!) Books on Tape is as much hers as mine, so respect the lady, hey? Besides, I love her. And I sample her records.

This music would have never happened without: Pavement, Talking Heads, Albert Ayler, Sonic Youth, Sun Ra, Wire, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Neil Young, Mike Patton, The Slits, Gang of Four, The Pixies, Public Enemy, Freestyle Fellowship, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cash Money Millionaires, The Fall and David Bowie. As well as countless others (Neptunes, Premier, Timbaland, etc.). Respect to all forward-minded artists. Push on!

[vii-03]

Some recommended items

In the press

  • Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural, July 15, 2004
  • Brian Marley, The Wire, no. 246, July 1, 2004
  • Éric Henaff, Les choses, May 27, 2004
    … de la noirceur de l’electro-dub à la chatoyante mélodie simpliste et efficace…
  • Éric Thériault, Convergence, no. 26, April 1, 2004
    … il offre toute l’intensité et l’énergie de la musique punk.
  • moog, Beam Me Up, April 1, 2004
  • Vidal Romero, Trax, April 1, 2004
  • Christian Meyer, Choices, April 1, 2004
  • Honker, Terz, April 1, 2004
  • Gonzo Circus, no. 62, April 1, 2004
  • DEA, Surreal Sound, March 15, 2004
    En résumé: très varié, cet album «blues» qui est plein d’énergie… Le tout est dépourvu de «blues» et sonne fait maison! Et en un mot: incontournable!
  • Rick, Delusion of Adequacy, March 15, 2004
    There are so many good things on this album to recommend that I could literally go on for hours.
  • Michael Ornadet, Logo Magazine, March 15, 2004
    … a master of telling stories without using words…
  • Pedro Portela, O domínio dos deuses, March 15, 2004
    Todd Drootin é um alquimista dos sons.
  • Sébastien, Autres directions, March 1, 2004
    Foutraque et détraqué, musclé, groovy et festif, c’est du tout bon que ce son électro enfin atypique…
  • Vittore Baroni, Rumore, March 1, 2004
  • Wiolin, Fluid, March 1, 2004
  • Jean-François Micard, D-Side, March 1, 2004
  • Compgeekgirl, South of Mainstream, March 1, 2004
    … an indie-electronic wonder that will get your ass out of the seat and on your feet.
  • T™, Black, March 1, 2004
  • Luca Freddi, Sodapop, March 1, 2004
  • Von Falk, Somamag, February 15, 2004
  • Tobias C van Veen, Dusted Magazine, February 11, 2004
  • Benoît, Benzine, February 10, 2004
    Books on Tape vaut vraiment le détour pour peu que vous soyez amateur de broken-beat et autres bizarreries hip-hop déjantées.
  • Adrien Begrand, Pop Matters, February 6, 2004
    … a 65-minute mishmash of myriad musical styles that is sometimes dark, sometimes warm, the overall tone of the record changing with almost every track…
  • bleed, De:Bug, February 1, 2004
    5/5
  • Rob Geary, Grooves, no. 12, February 1, 2004
    Books on Tape winds up with something like sinister downtempo that retains some of the warmth and texture of its sources.
  • Rich Juzwiak, Magnet, February 1, 2004
    Sings the Blues feels as important as drill’n’bass masterworks by Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and µ-ziq…
  • Neslon L, Stylus Magazine, February 1, 2004
    This is a great album from start to finish.
  • Martin Lomas, The Music Womb, January 15, 2004
    … cool and oh so good to move to. Bloody genius.
  • Foghorn, Chicken-head Records, no. 9, January 1, 2004
    Uncategorizable is a complete understatement!
  • Cracked, January 1, 2004
    Strange sense of humour […] a multi-layered, ever-changing example of a completely uninhibited attitude towards music…
  • Marc Weingarten, Entertainment Weekly, December 10, 2003
    Grade: B+
  • Walt Miller, Splendid E-Zine, December 3, 2003
    Books on Tape’s mischievous core is exposed as a whimsical bright spot within IDM’s crowded field…
  • Nicola Catalano, Blow Up, no. 67, December 1, 2003
  • Julien Jaffré, Jade, November 10, 2003
    Une union heureuse au delà du papier qui scelle […] l’appétit du label pour une musique rythmique en marge.
  • Laurent Catala, Octopus, no. 25, November 1, 2003
  • Cory O’Malley, LA Alternative Press, October 29, 2003
    … this is one of the most criminally under-appreciated acts in Los Angeles… Top notch.
  • Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera, no. 2003_m, October 23, 2003
    … a dancing dramatic techno… a fun filled time.
  • Lesley Bargar, LA Alternative Press, October 22, 2003
    … the brilliant premeditation is evident in how friggin’ good his stuff is.
  • Adrian Zupp, Rolling Stone, October 22, 2003
  • Anne Sulikowski, Earshot, October 21, 2003
    It is seamless and powerful and full of bubbly fun.… a heart drenched lullaby sung to you from outer space. I love this CD more each time I listen again and again…
  • Philip Raffaele, Absorb, October 9, 2003
    Quite a breath of fresh air in a stifled genre.
  • François Couture, AllMusic, September 23, 2003
    … a labor of good-humored pranskterism and double-dare dance tunes.
  • Stefan Koopmanschap, Electronic Music World, September 21, 2003
    … a mad genius is at work here.
  • Boban Ristevski, Igloo, September 9, 2003
    … fresh, new, funny and yet very serious and adventurous.
  • David Cantin, Le Devoir, September 6, 2003
    … on prône chez No Type une liberté artistique foisonnante.
  • Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, no. 071, September 6, 2003
    … the hard, up-tempo, almost aggressive rhythms build your energy up to a raw, inexplicable high.
  • Serge Roy, Convergence, no. 3:5, September 1, 2003
    Une loufoquerie dotée d’une belle fraîcheur et d’une sacrée énergie qui force le respect.
  • Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 385, August 20, 2003
    Freshly aggressive, raw and untamed. Quite an enjoyable effort.

Recensione

Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural, July 15, 2004

Etichetta canadese, la No Type, per Todd Drootin, arista elettronico di Los Angeles, al suo secondo album, fra modulate e sperimentali combinazioni, a dar vita ad un melting-pot sonoro che annette (con estro) disparate influenze, campionando in abbondanza quello che più gli aggrada, senza particolari strategie ma guidato da gusti personalissimi (che gli fanno citare fra i ringraziamenti Albert Ayler ed i Pavement, i Neptunes e le Slits, Sonic Youth e Lee Scratch Perry). Non ci si annoia, questo è certo, ogni traccia è differente dall’altra, sorprendendoci con un dub sbilenco dopo schegge chitarristiche in Girls Up Front, oppure in Death In the Sex Shop, suonando sporco, come un gruppo no wave degli anni ottanta in preda ad una serata d’eccessi, sensazione che rimane anche nel brano successivo, Siberian Soundsystem, pur filtrata da altri innesti.

Innocente, ironico, Books on Tape, fra riff rubati, atmosfere in prestito ed ispirazioni groove, imbastisce i pezzi, smanettando sulle molte macchine, collegate fra loro, le stesse che usa nei suoi live, come un musicista free jazz, che invece di uno strumento tradizionale suona invece campionatori, groove box ed effettiere. Combinazioni che diventano amabilmente funky, quasi ambientali, ipnotiche e reiterate, in Shake That, oppure scandite e misteriose in The Crucial, cinematica e ondeggiante prima dell’ultima traccia, Church Bus, dove la ritmica incede fra broken beats e schegge rock. Una produzione con suoni non certo innovativi e molto umorale ma che non dispiace nei risultati, nell’attitudine eclettica, spontanea, passionale ed inventiva.

Critique

Éric Henaff, Les choses, May 27, 2004

À l’intérieur du disque, Books on Tape s’amuse à énumérer les groupes qui ont influencé sa musique: Pavement, Talking Heads, Albert Ayler, Sonic Youth, Sun Ra, Wire, Lee Scratch Perry, Neil Young, Mike Patton… et la liste continue sans faute de goût… Mais contrairement à ce que l’on pourrait imaginer, Books on Tape se laisse aller sur des terrains privilégiant l’électro plutôt que le rock. Les instrumentaux présentés offrent un fort caractère ludique mélant souplesse et liberté. Chaque thème est une peinture des humeurs de l’auteur et les couleurs employées vont de la noirceur de l’electro-dub à la chatoyante mélodie simpliste et efficace de quelques notes bien pensées sans oublier les traits rythmiques du style cher au mouvement ‘big beat’. Sings the Blues parvient à tirer son épingle du jeu grâce à une approche musicale sans complexe et directe. 14/20

… de la noirceur de l’electro-dub à la chatoyante mélodie simpliste et efficace…

Sens, intensité

Éric Thériault, Convergence, no. 26, April 1, 2004

Books on Tape berce sa création dans l’idéologie et l’influence du rock ’n’ roll. Par sa façon de jouer staccato et son instrumentation analogique, il offre toute l’intensité et l’énergie de la musique punk. En fait, il qualifie son style de «beatpunk», terme qui engloberait par la magie d’une puissante juxtaposition sa passion pour la guitare, le jazz et le dub. Cette vision particulière, cependant, est marquée par un désir profond d’exprimer son caractère et sa personnalité par le biais d’une structure instrumentale. Books on Tape n’est pas le type de musicien électronique qui joue pendant 45 minutes sans dire un mot. Il pause entre les chansons et s’engage pour enchanter son public. C’est sa façon, dit-il, d’offrir la sensation et l’énergie d’un spectacle rock n’roll. Nous avons rencontré l’artiste lors de son récent passage à Montréal.

Convergence: Vous avez une connexion spéciale avec Montréal grâce à votre association avec l’étiquette No Type. Comment a débuté cette relation?

J’échangeais des pièces sur Napster avec un mec il y a 4 ans. Il m’a dit: «Vous devriez vous joindre à No Type. On aimerait vous avoir». Je n’avais jamais entendu parler de cette étiquette. Alors j’ai composé un court métrage pour eux. Parce que ma musique est un peu atypique pour No Type, j’étais vraiment honoré de faire partie d’une telle ligue de musiciens. Et avec une étiquette mp3, on peut rapidement recevoir du feedback.

Convergence: Los Angeles ne nous vient pas à l’idée quand on pense à la musique électronique. Y apprécie-t-on votre style?

Absolument. Nous sommes un petit groupe de musiciens électroniques à Los Angeles. Il y a des fêtes tous les mois et les supporteurs sont nombreux. J’en ai vues de toutes sortes - d’un chanteur heavy métal avec de la guitare et distorsion au-dessus d’un rythme électro, jusqu’à un gars qui s’appelle le ‘TV Sheriff’ [qui performe] devant un écran vidéo très explicite. La musique essentielle est sans doute le hip hop des débuts ’90. Je me rendais souvent dans des régions plutôt dangereuses pour voir ces spectacles.

Convergence: Vous étiez en spectacle au Festival CMJ de New York récemment, c’était une belle expérience?

En raison de ma performance et de la réaction de la foule, je la classe dans mon top 3 de tous les temps. Parfois, il faut sortir de son environnement et se dire: «Je suis loin de chez moi et je vais tout donner ce soir». J’ai été chanceux, car il y avait peu de musique électronique cette année. Quand j’ai levé la tête, la salle était pleine à craquer, c’était saisissant!

Convergence: Sings the Blues est votre nouvel album - le titre nous semble un peu trompeur.

Ah… c’est mon côté farceur. J’ai pensé que ça serait amusant de fabriquer une couverture à la ‘Blue Note’ et de me montrer derrière un microphone alors que je ne chante pas du tout. Mes chansons ont aussi des titres très rigolos. La musique et le spectacle, voilà ce qui m’importe.

Convergence: Votre style frappe avec une énergie qui rappelle le rock n’ roll, particulièrement les chansons She’s Dead To Me et Siberian Soundsystem. Ça s’explique par votre formation?

Exactement. J’étais batteur dans des groupes rock dès l’âge de onze ans jusqu’à mes 20 ans. C’est à la suite de ma rencontre avec Kerri, ma future fiancée, que j’ai abandonné. Elle était bien meilleure que moi. J’avais commencé à découvrir les samplers quelques années avant ma retraite du rock car je vivais dans un duplex où il fallait être silencieux. J’étais donc à la recherche de la technologie et la transition s’est faite tout naturellement. Ma structure punk s’est maintenue car je m’intéressais à la musique alternative, punk, ainsi qu’au dub de Scratch Perry et de King Tubby.

Convergence: Le terme «electronica» convient-il à votre musique?

Mais oui, c’est de la musique électronique! J’embrasse le son et la technologie d’aujourd’hui. La combinaison est nouvelle et reste à découvrir. J’aime la sonorité du punk, mais pour moi, le terme ‘punk’ veut dire manipuler le son comme personne ne l’a jamais fait. C’est comme l’ancienne citation du groupe The Grateful Dead: «Nous ne sommes pas les meilleurs dans ce que l’on fait, nous sommes les seuls à le faire.» Tel est mon objectif!

Convergence: En ce qui concerne le sampling, comment éviter les embêtements de la part des compagnies de disque?

Habituellement je ne jouerais pas la pièce sur le même ton que l’originale. Je la coupe, je la renverse et je la manipule à quelques reprises. Je tente de la transformer et de créer quelque chose de neuf. J’utilise des pièces sous les yeux de mes amis qui font partie de quelques groupes rock et ils ne les reconnaissent pas. Peut-être un jour je leur dirai!

Convergence: Bicycle Beat rappelle les sommets atteints sur l’album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts de David Byrne et Brian Eno. Vous connaissez cet album?

C’est l’un de mes préférés de tous les temps! Vous pouvez carrément méditer sur ce disque! Je suis un gros fan de Talking Heads aussi. Je crois qu’ils sont les pionniers du mouvement réversible [cross-over] de l’ère moderne. Le rock en a profité beaucoup. Il est toujours vital. Il n’y a rien de mieux que de se faire comparer à un tel album.

Convergence: Dans la pochette de l’album Sings the Blues vous confirmez que «cette musique n’aurait jamais vu le jour sans des groupes comme Albert Ayler, Sonic Youth, Public Enemy, Art Ensemble of Chicago, même David Bowie. Vous étes à la poursuite d’une fidélité sonore particulière?

Je recherche un certain individualisme en associant ma personnalité à ma musique. J’adore ce culte de la personnalité. J’aimerais bien que les gens puissent dire «cela doit être Books on Tape.» Je veux que ma musique reflète ma personnalité.

Convergence: Votre musigue s’adapterait facilement aux domaines de la publicité et du cinéma?

J’y pense tous les jours! J’en ai déjà licenciées beaucoup à des êmissions de télévision. D’ailleurs, c’est la raison pour laquelle je peux me permettre de visiter des villes comme Montréal. J’ai aussi déjà travaillé pour un superviseur responsable de sélectionner de la musique pour le cinéma. Vous pouvez retrouver plusieurs de mes pièces, celles non appropriées pour mes albums, sur des émissions MTV comme Real World, Road Rules et des petites émissions de télé-réalité du genre. Ils me surnomment le «Maître de la tension» Genre: si une fille tombe enceinte ou s’il y a une bagarre quelconque, on utilise ta musique.

Convergence: Selon le L.A. Alternative Press, vous seriez «peut-être trop ingénieux et trop difficile pour gagner la ferveur populaire.» Mission accomplie?

C’est ma plus grande peur. Je ne souhaite pas devenir trop expérimental au point où les gens se demanderaient si ce que je fais est vraiment de la musique. Je ne veux pas qu’on me retrouve parmi les collections coûteuses oubliées chez le disquaire dans la section expérimentale. Certains ont toujours peur de la musique instrumentale. À la maison, j’écoute de la musique spéciale - du jazz expérimental et des musiciens comme Don Caballero. J’ai peur que les gens n’en viennent à vouloir que des groupes vocaux, mais je ne changerai pas de direction. Personne ne me changera.

… il offre toute l’intensité et l’énergie de la musique punk.

Kritik

moog, Beam Me Up, April 1, 2004

Discos

Vidal Romero, Trax, April 1, 2004

Kritik

Christian Meyer, Choices, April 1, 2004

Made My Day

Honker, Terz, April 1, 2004

Todd Drootin (daher der schöne Titel) aus LA nach seinem Debut Throw Down Your Laptops mit seiner erweiterten Definition von „Beatpunk”: einmal Indie, immer Indie, jedoch verstärkt durch sein simpel-trickreiches Programming. Dazu ein klasse Humorvibe und jede Menge powervolle Psycho-Styles, nur den Blues suchen wir hier vergeblich. Klare Empfehlung: geht doch nach Indien!

Kritiek

Gonzo Circus, no. 62, April 1, 2004

Een staande ovatie voor Todd Drootin Books, graag. Want wat de Amerikaanse sample-dj op Sings the Blues laat horen is grensverleggend. En totaal niet gekunsteld of uit intellectuele drang. Books giet de meest uiteenlopende loops, scratches, soundbites en ritmes (punk, jazz, Timbaland-hiphop, mellow, indierock) in echte nummers. Hijzelf noemt het beatpunk. Prachtige en lading-dekkende term, maar ondanks de ietwat doffe productie kan Books on Tape me de juiste hypemachine snel in een adem met Kid606 of Aphex Twin worden genoemd. Zeker als hij dit ook live neerzet. Verplichte kost voor dj’s die een scherp randje aan hun setlist willen geven. Ook een tip voor reclamemakers: sommige fragmenten lijken wel geknipt voor een tv-spot-je van een splinternieuwe Honda die door de straten van Tokio scheurt.

Critique

DEA, Surreal Sound, March 15, 2004

Vous venez de détruire le boss qui vous attendait à la fin de l’un de ces bons vieux shoot’em up sur une de ces consoles 8 bits d’il y a deux générations, et vous voici au tableau des hi-scores!

C’est l’une des ambiances que l’on peut retrouver sur cet excellent album qui mele rythmes rapides, lignes synthétiques électroïdes à outrance et instruments terroristes comme en usent Venetian Snares, Kid 606 ou Aphex Twin. Le tout est agrémenté de breaks downtempo qui pourraient être attribués à un groupe hip-hop d’une foire ténébreuse issue d’un film de série Z…

Cette première réalisation 100% Todd Drootin restitue parait-il l’émotion et l’essence de ses shows que l’on dit fameux! D’ores et déjà je peux vous garantir qu’en live ça doit être vraiment fort! Vivement que cet artiste - étoile montante de la scène électronique de Los Angeles - vienne faire résonner son son dans nos contrées!

En résumé: très varié, cet album «blues» qui est plein d’énergie contient des sons évoquant les séquences d’intro de la demoscene Amiga, de nombreux samples vocaux ou autres et des beats, tantôt proches de la frénésie, tantôt proches d’ambiances glauques mais non moins kitsches… Le tout est dépourvu de «blues» et sonne fait maison! Et en un mot: incontournable!

En résumé: très varié, cet album «blues» qui est plein d’énergie… Le tout est dépourvu de «blues» et sonne fait maison! Et en un mot: incontournable!

Review

Rick, Delusion of Adequacy, March 15, 2004

Perhaps the most startling realization I had while listening to Books on Tape’s Sings the Blues is this: for a record that falls firmly in line with the glitch/IDM genre, there’s nary a laptop to be found on the album. Instead, Books on Tape’s sole member, one Todd Drootin by name, crafts his electronic music with an impressive array of guitars, pedals, samplers, and synthesizers. While this may seem to some an old-fashioned and time-consuming way to produce music that’d be much more easily concocted with computers, the care and diligence Drootin uses to craft his signature sound shines through on every track, taking what might have been a conventional exercise in glitchy abstraction and making it into something fun, captivating, catchy, and, most importantly, booty-shaking.

The record kicks off with the warm, low-key stereo-panned guitar plucking of Laptop Blues, a track that immediately brings to mind Anticon collective member Why?, and his recent work on both the Early Whitney EP and his stellar full-length, Oaklandazulasylum. The track is incredibly short and immediately segues into the more trip-hop-oriented Republic Of, whose nice beat is accentuated by a melodic, pitch-shifting hum that sounds nothing so much like an old Macintosh laser printer on sedatives. The track also features brief, quiet stabs of funk guitar that add to the atmosphere and serve as a nice counterpoint to the steady thump-tick-rattle of the drum work.

The next two tracks, See You In Tokyo and She’s Dead To Me, respectively, up the quotient of dark-sounding 80s synths, sounding not unlike something you’d hear in a dance club (although instrumental). See You In Tokyo features a bopping keyboard bass line that uses the majority of the chromatic minor scale to give the track a film-noir feel. It sounds creepy, but the overall effect is more fun than frightening. She’s Dead To Me is immediately more aggressive, featuring a frenetic keyboard riff that soon evolves into glitchy drums and a spastic bass line that flips between going a million beats per minute to sudden minor key repetition as the drums drop out.

Pointe du pied is fun and relaxed, sounding almost like an outtake from Felix Da Housecat’s utterly ridiculous (and ridiculously fun) Kittenz and the Glitz. The synthesizer chirps on a major key melody while layers of alternately skittery and crunchy beats drop in and out. Girls Up Front plays with your mind a bit, featuring a sound sample that cuts in and out just enough to drive you nuts before the music starts in earnest, layering funky breakbeats over the sample before dropping it nearly entirely for a darker synth line. Death In the Sex Shop starts out quietly enough before delving into a fragmented nightmare of minor key techno beats featuring a wacked out sax solo. Siberian Soundsystem is probably the most conventionally “catchy” track on the album. Drootin plays it mostly straight here, laying down some funky beats and a low-end melody that screams “PLEASE DANCE!”

There are so many good things on this album to recommend that I could literally go on for hours. I bet this thing’s a freakin’ amazing trip on headphones, and I can’t wait for a chance to listen to it on mine. With the majority of IDM music coming out these days seeming either too light and fluffy (most of the Morr Music roster, although I love their stuff) or too academic and dark (Amon Tobin, some of Anticon’s stuff), it’s good to know that there’re electronic artists out there who don’t take themselves so seriously and know how to have fun. Maybe if a few more artists in this genre “sung the blues,” the world of IDM might be a better place.

There are so many good things on this album to recommend that I could literally go on for hours.

Review

Michael Ornadet, Logo Magazine, March 15, 2004

Too often, experimental electronica is a euphemism for music that contains good ideas but no tunes, sounds that display an impressive mastery of studio techniques but no idea of how to utilize those tools to make anything even loosely related to actual music. Occasionally though, in the hands of Squarepusher, Pole and now Todd Drootin - also known as Todd Books, aka Books on Tape - it’s a genuinely new musical form that deserves its own section in the encyclopaedia. The micromanipulated beats that underpin much of this second Books on Tape album sound like Autechre at their most accessible best; most importantly though, Drootin reveals himself as a master of telling stories without using words, making Sings the Blues a fascinating journey into one man’s psyche and a foot-tapper to boot.

… a master of telling stories without using words…

Discos

Pedro Portela, O domínio dos deuses, March 15, 2004

Todd Drootin é um alquimista dos sons. O seu passado nos Subverse pouco tem em comum com o esquadro hip-hop / electrónica com que traça agora a sua carreira a solo no projecto Books on Tape.

0A verdade é que nos Books on Tape o binómio energia vs ritmo arranca-nos admiração perante o inesperado e os tiques humanóides da parafernália electrónica fazem-nos perceber que, à falta de blues, Sings the Blues apresenta um tom azul intenso, turquesa talvez, como se resultado de um fluido contrastante numa análise química, ou de pano branco onde fazemos incidir luz negra.

Drootin encarrega-se de todos os sons passíveis de serem escutados neste disco com a devoção de um missionário, cuja religião é o ritmo e em que a utilização de técnicas de estúdio para a manipulação plástica de massas sonoras é a profissão de fé.

A seita dos Books on Tape, já se sabe, não é seguida por muitos fiéis nem dada a grandes protagonismos. Destina-se apenas a quem aposta na análise cuidada de alternativas e sente arrepios quando pressente que novos caminhos são ainda, apesar de tudo, possíveis.

Todd Drootin é um alquimista dos sons.

Critique

Sébastien, Autres directions, March 1, 2004

Artiste extrêmement prolifique qui participe d’ailleurs à l’essor des weblabels en offrant en téléchargement gratuit plusieurs de ses morceaux, Todd Drootin incarne Books on Tape, projet électro en roue libre possédant le charme empoisonné d’un gangster sympa et un peu rustre. Sings the Blues fait converger une multitude d’influences et de styles pour aboutir à cet ensemble extrêmement urbain, rugueux, d’esprit tout à la fois blues, punk et hip hop. Le morceau Republic Of renvoie à la moiteur des rues sous la pluie, son sample entêtant en étendard; promenade sur des trottoirs saturés d’eau, dans un ton sépia, esprit hip hop bohème, sale et un peu funky. Immédiatement après, le tube épique: See You In Tokyo, avec sa ligne de basse survoltée et sa mélodie conquérante, pour une scène plus tendue. Musique sortie de ses gonds, emportée par son énergie, qui rejoint assez vite le panthéon des bandes sons de jeux vidéos dont on retrouve ici des échos familiers, ludiques et bagarreurs. Cette influence revient souvent dans les seize morceaux de l’album et lui confère une énergie de jeunesse barbare, son côté un peu cheap (Amiga!) et analogique, abrasif.

Drootin affectionne les sons épais qui font mal, ceux qui gueulent plus fort que les autres et font la loi au milieu de morceaux sous stéroïdes. Mais le second degré n’est jamais loin et l’humour de certains arrangements, là encore très vidéoludiques, apporte un peu de bonhomie à sa cavale sous tension. Sings the Blues est la bande son idéale pour une filature ou une course poursuite échevelée en milieu urbain. Foutraque et détraqué, musclé, groovy et festif, c’est du tout bon que ce son électro enfin atypique, qui peut lorgner le temps d’un éclair chez ses voisins du reggae (la fin de Girls Up Front) et s’installer juste après dans un climat d’urgence, narrant la dernière chevauchée du héros au milieu d’un déluge de flammes précédant l’explosion du complexe (Death In the Sex Shop). Chaque piste est une nouvelle scène d’action, un nouveau coup de poing de fond de ruelle dans la face du méchant, un autre coup de boule dans le nez aquilin du gentil qui trinque lui aussi, parce que ça devrait toujours être comme ça. Remember John McLane.

Finalement, Sings the Blues est tout aussi électrique qu’électronique, et cela ne tient qu’à la rage intérieure de ses morceaux cyclothymiques. Forte tête prise dans la spirale d’un déchaînement global, Drootin a le talent, l’esprit rock et revanchard, sans oublier ce soupçon de grâce qui fait les plus beaux charismes.

Foutraque et détraqué, musclé, groovy et festif, c’est du tout bon que ce son électro enfin atypique…

Recensione

Vittore Baroni, Rumore, March 1, 2004

Il californiano Todd Drootin definisce il proprio stile “beatpunk”, forse per distinguerlo dal digital-hardcore dei contarranei Kid 606, Lesser e soci, che muovono da similari premesse “plunderfoniche” ma con esiti pen più caustici e radicali. Todd è un maniaco del campionatore, ma le sue fonti d’inspirazione non sono il nippo-noise e neppure il furto concettuale alla John Oswald. Non è neppure un raffinato collagista alla DJ Shadow, ma piuttosto applica un emelentare attitudine pop-punk (appunto) alle spartane tecnologie con cui smonta e ricicla in sconnessi e bizzarri groove piccoli frammenti delle sue band preferite (Pavement, Pixies, Wire, Slits, The Fall, Sonic Youth, sono tutte elencate in copertina) o di giganti come Albert Ayler e Sun Ra, guarnendo con semplici riff sintetici e voci prelevante qua e là. Sings the Blues (ma di blues ovviamente non c’è ombra) fa seguito all’esordio Throw Down Your Laptops e vive della continua reinvenzione di un divertente (e danzabile) tappeto ritmico seriale, tra pause downtempo e frenetiche galoppate electro, su cui si innestano beffarde microvariazioni. Che Drootin riesca a tener in piedi la baracca per 65’ con solo qualche lieve cedimento è un risultato di cui poò andar fiero.

Review

Compgeekgirl, South of Mainstream, March 1, 2004

I’ve been listening to this album on and off for over a month. In fact, this disc is thus far the one I’ve had to listen to the most before feeling capable of writing a review that would do it justice. This was a hard review. Look at the rating and you’ll see that the difficulty didn’t have anything to do with a less than stellar listen. This is an invasive and infectious listen that I felt I needed to really research (listen to often) to be able to write a sound review.

How to describe the overall sound? Well, it isn’t the blues, let me get that straight first and foremost. It’s instead a comglomerate of vast and varied electronic styles, mixing together to create a sound mixture that’s always fresh and interesting, never too much of that same beat or blip. And it’s more still, as some of these electronically created tunes definitely rock. And it’s a one man show, making it all the more impressive. Todd Drootin stands tall and delivers a diverse and driven listen.

I found the first couple of tracks a little listless, though quite listenable, with moments that drew me in, like the rolling rhythmic sound of See You In Tokyo which segues into some bloops and blips that would make the Art of Noise proud. She’s Dead To Me is a frantic, energetic onslaught of dysfunctional, but downright cool electronic noise.

I really got into the album around the sixth track, Girls Up Front, which has the sort of soulful female backing vocal samples that you might expect on a Fat Boy Slim project, along with a cool rolling rhythm punched up with faster rhythmic punches. Death In the Sex Shop is much harder, faster and more raw, with a definite frantic appeal. This song should be gracing an extreme sport video rather than some of the sycophantic emo/power pop punk currently holding that honor. Siberian Soundsystem brings to mind Ministry, KMFDM and early Orgy. It’s very dark, but still has an infectious pace. Frisson is also dark, but instead of frantic energy it’s appeal is it’s somber, sedate delivery.

You’d think the mish-mash of sounds would prove distracting, but they don’t. This is one of those albums that has you sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what the next song will do, how it will “feel”. Will it be another dark and dangerous offering, or an indie-electronic wonder that will get your ass out of the seat and on your feet.

This is the kind of disc you need at your older 20-something/early 30-something party. It will get your guests away from the snack table and cause them to hover around the stereo wanting to know who this is, what the next song will sound like, and where they can get a copy.

… an indie-electronic wonder that will get your ass out of the seat and on your feet.

Recensione

Luca Freddi, Sodapop, March 1, 2004

Per togliere gli indugi, qui di blues non c’è nemmeno l’ombra. Books on Tape è il nome dietro cui si nasconde il losangelino Todd Drootin che dice a chiare lettere, e ci dimostra con la sua musica, che per la propria elettronica sono confluite le anime di un indie rock tra Pixies, Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Fall e la verve strumentale elettro di Kid606 e del vate Aphex Twin, senza dimenticare Neptunes e Timbaland. L’estro c’è, e si sente che le disparate influenze si incontrano in pezzi divertenti, senza strategie ma appunto seguendo gusti personali. Come un artista free jazz dietro le sue macchine combina i campioni con il vezzo di un ragazzino. Tutto è sbilenco e votato al groove. Emerge l’inventiva e la sua spontenaeità soprattutto nelle schegge più rockeggianti, o quelle che si trasformano in mantra ipnotici, nonostante i beat reiterati. Ogni traccia è diversa dall’altra, si può passare da un quasi punk a pezzi alla Amon Tobin, seguendo appunto l’impulso estemporaneo. Suoni già sentiti, alcuni brani che diventano un po’ noiosetti, ma è talmente imbastardito che diventa simpatico, ruspante e giocoso.

Tonträger

Von Falk, Somamag, February 15, 2004

Todd Drootin meldet sich zurück und haut uns wieder munter seinen „Beatpunk” um die Ohren. Unter dieser selbstverliehenen Bezeichnung kreuzt der Sample-Wizzard auch auf seinem neuen Album Indie Rock bzw. Punk mit Hip Hop, Breakbeat, Jazz, Funk, Electro, und, und, und… Herausgekommen sind dabei 16 freaky Sound-Bastarde voller Energie und Oldschool-Feeling, und die flotten, eingängigen Melodien lassen den Spasspegelmesser gehörig ausschlagen. Der Albumtitel ist übrigens definitiv nur ein Fake, denn mit Blues hat das Ganze herzlich wenig zu tun. Vergleichen lässt es sich vielleicht am ehesten mit… - ach was, findet’s doch selbst heraus. In diesem Sinne…

Chomping at the Books on Tape (& other badassness)

Tobias C van Veen, Dusted Magazine, February 11, 2004

Books on Tape swept through Montréal with his broken pants and beatpunk sampling techniques in January of 2004, arriving in the dead of winter to scream and freak-out at the little Casa del Popolo, otherwise known as ‘the asylum.’ It seems that every ex-pat American citizen flocks to this little watering hole.

Whether the eclectic mash-ups of LA’s Todd Drootin are becoming known for their slegdgehammer composition and obscure sampling or for Drootin’s manic stage presence is debatable. Those who wage the quality beer swear it has something to do with the fact that Drootin yells a lot. Drootin fills the loadtime waiting for his AKAI MPC2000 with patter that ranks his lunacy alongside his assault calibre, heavy hitting brokenbeats. Those who wage the moonshine bet their nut that his success lies in the non-yelling bits, in the apologetic nature he displays when cursing the foreign policy of his Government.

To set matters straight, as words do not describe the beauty=truth complex that well when dealing with drunk & bearded madmen, Drootin’s BOT project isn’t IDM, drillcore, or Kid606 tigerbeats - it’s closer to a heavy metal showdown, a stoner’s grind-out, something so filmic that only a native of the Smog City could love it to its rotten, bass-heavy core. There’s something atonally epic about his tracks which cry out for the whelping he delivers via frantic and heavy use of distortion and fuzz. If Drootin has Napolean syndrome, then it’s rational to claim that he’s acting out some superbly improvised Hegelian master/slave relations that nonetheless juxtapose the timeless themeatic of the body/techne tension, throwing his human, sweating self into the grids of his technological apparatuses with a Wagnerian fury. During ‘performance’ - others call it ‘therapy’ - Drootin punches and slams his EFX pedals, crying out with wanton lust and dancing with utter abandon and glee like a Dionysian at the edge of berserk. It’s a beautiful thing, when it’s not shameful and banned in the lower 48 States.

With a recent album on Montréal’s diverse No Type label - & here I am partisan, for I throw down the wax at their oddball events - appropriately named Sings the Blues (2004), Drootin surpasses his past excursions, above & beyond the beat to explore the themeatics of the beat symphony… Emotional tones, danceable show tunes, and narratological outlines in song structure abound as Drootin laps past the deservedly polemic Throw Down Your Laptops (Deathbomb Arc, 2002). True, Drootin admitted during his spastic stage show that yes, indeed, sometimes he wish he had a laptop (& technically, the MPC 2000 is the precursor - it’s a basic hard-drive & processor). And true to form, however, he demonstrated with the vicious antics of his body that only the flailing arms and hands of a maniac can sustain the energy and pressure his gear requires… no laptop would live up under that heavy damage… it would be left in a heaping, smoking wreck. In a way Todd Drootin follows what Hendrix, The Clash and just about every cool rock band has done at some point - break shit. I’ve yet to hear of him throwing the MPC into the crowd, but damn, that will be a photo-op. As well as expensive. But in this other way, the point I was really trying to make, Drootin has more to do with rock music than electronic[a]. His tunes have been featured on MTV (he does commercial scoring), and he’s down with the serious in-ya’-face presence of the performer. Yah. My bet - Drootin on the upswing as long as he doesn’t fall to the pressures of the dialectics crowd. Watch your back for the Aufhebung!

Tobias: How did you get started in music?

Books on Tape: I’ve been banging on something or other since I was 5. Piano, then drums, then guitar and, around 1998, samplers and electronics. There’s a lot of musical history in my family - my grandfather’s brother drummed for Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and others, but it certainly wasn’t a matter of being pushed into music because my parents are completely unmusical. I mean, god forbid you have to listen to one of them sing Karaoke…

Tobias: How did your sound get so heavy?

Books on Tape: Well, I like rock in almost all its forms. And I like things extreme. So when the kids in my clique got into Metallica, I got into Napalm Death. And when it came time for Green Day and Nirvana to take over, I was stuck on early Sonic Youth as well as digging up Raincoats albums and other more obscure things that I had only heard or read about. So whenever I’ve played an instrument, it has always been with a Derek Bailey sense of “Do as no one has done before you”… the heaviness comes as a result of my dual tastes for the sound/energy of rock and the extreme/weirdo/groundbreaking styles of bands like The Slits, or, for a more current example, Melt Banana.

Tobias: Would you use a laptop in lieu of an AKAI if you had MIDI drum pads that allowed you to do the same thing? An AKAI is just kind of a slow, heavy laptop.

Books on Tape: Hook me up! The idea that I am an anti-laptop guy is really kind of something cooked up because there are so many people who do make great music using laptops. I will say, though, that one of the things I like about the AKAI is that I feel like I’m bastardizing it and using it within some limitations. I like when people familiar with the machine look at me and just shake their heads, confused. With a laptop, it seems, almost anything is possible. And I like the audience to understand - or at least to THINK they understand, what is going on. I find that lacking at laptop shows.

Tobias: Do you make your music more methodically than the performance or just kind of set everything up and bang away on the Korg, the pedals, the AKAI?

Books on Tape: Making the tracks is a completely methodical process that I enjoy far less than the live performance aspect. It usually involves me hovering over a warm sampler for the better part of a day or two, and then countless revisions over the life of a song. I do weird things like program sequences and leave them on mute, in case one day I feel like throwing that in at a show. It may happen, it may not… but I like to give myself that kind of room for improvising on the basic structures when I perform live.

Tobias: Have you thought of doing a noise album?

Books on Tape: I’d like to produce one with collaborators. I couldn’t conceive of doing it on my own.

Tobias: Where would you most like to play and with who?

Books on Tape: Tough one! I’d like to play with Sonic Youth or The Boredoms, anywhere… though since I brought up the Boredoms, let’s say in Japan!

Tobias: If you were gay would you date T. Raumschmiere?

Books on Tape: I generally prefer indie-rock boys, but Thurston and Malkmus are getting old and I’ve got nothing for the new crop of heart-on-sleeve kids. But I’m not picky…

Tobias: What’s next musically kiddo?

Books on Tape: I want to remix some rock bands this year. Wait until early next year to do another full-length. Tour as much as possible. Make new musical connections. Hang out with amazing bands like NYC’s Parts and Labor. And meet Jay-Z.

Critique

Benoît, Benzine, February 10, 2004

Voici un artiste qui mériterait largement sa place sur le label de Coldcut (Ninja tune) ou qui pourrait prétendre être le frère de son d’un Kid 606!

Très proche de ces artistes magnant la paire de ciseaux et le tube de colle musical, Todd Drootin aka Books on Tape pratique l’art du recyclage et en fait presque un art de vivre (la musique) à part entière. Sur ce second album Sings the Blues (avec sa pochette très Blue note) le jeune homme convie toutes les sonorités bizarroïdes de la terre pour une orgie sonore avec pour maître de cérémonie l’homme et son sampler. Ecoutez voir…

Récupérateur invétéré, passionné de sonorités électro incroyables, sans limites proprement dites, Books on Tape assemble des choses sans forme et leur donne une seconde vie en les associant à des breakbeats rêches et abrasifs qui font que sa musique ne ressemble à aucune autre. Usant de musiques de films de série Z, de bruits de cassette vierge, de samples de voix piquées à droite, à gauche, ou même de sons issus de tableaux de jeux vidéo, Books on Tape touche à tout sauf au blues, et encore on en est pas sûr.

Melting-pot sonore, parfois proche de l’indigestion, cet album est à lui tout seul une véritable curiosité sonore. Et on imagine bien ce fou génial des machines s’éclater comme une bête sur scène, face à ses machines, et proposer des prestations audiovisuelles d’une certaine intensité.

Artiste hors-norme, capable de vous surprendre à chaque seconde par des assemblages sonores invraisemblables, Books on Tape vaut vraiment le détour pour peu que vous soyez amateur de broken-beat et autres bizarreries hip-hop déjantées. Pour les autres, une fois la curiosité passée, il leur sera sans doute difficile d’aller jusqu’au bout de cet assemblage baroque, mais maîtrisé, signé par un musicien DJ affranchi. * * 1/2

Books on Tape vaut vraiment le détour pour peu que vous soyez amateur de broken-beat et autres bizarreries hip-hop déjantées.

Review

Adrien Begrand, Pop Matters, February 6, 2004

The last album that I heard that worked the same way as Books on Tape’s new one, Sings the Blues, was King of Woolworth’s charmer, Ming Star. Not that they sound remotely like each other, mind you, but both of these electronic albums have the same appeal. Neither artist is trying to turn electronic music on its ear; instead of pushing the proverbial envelope, they’re just happy in their own little niche. Ideas may be recycled from other artists’ work, and this music isn’t anything that will make your jaw hit the floor the first time you hear it, but given time you feel yourself warming up to the music until you realize that, in its own innocuous way, the material is well-crafted, accessible, and quite enjoyable.

Books on Tape, the moniker of Los Angeles artist Todd Drootin, keeps things amazingly simple, compared to many of his peers. Sings the Blues is yet another clever laptop collage of samples and beats, but compared to more ambitious fare like Four Tet and Manitoba, he works more like a jazz artist, establishing a very simple primary melody in a song and just letting loose for the duration of the piece, acting as a cut-and-paste soloist. It’s a 65-minute mishmash of myriad musical styles that is sometimes dark, sometimes warm, the overall tone of the record changing with almost every track, but in the end that’s half the fun.

Credit Drootin’s girlfriend Kerri for inspiring him to create this album. Drootin plundered her personal record collection, covering a wide variety of genres, for sampling ideas, and as it turns out, the idea worked out quite well, sometimes magnificently. Sings the Blues is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek title, which Drootin alludes to in the brief intro Laptop Blues, a track that basically consists of a lazy, amateurish acoustic guitar progression that’s given a silly, slightly warped effect by Drootin. Republic Of gets down to more serious business, however, as it mines the languid, funky trip hop sounds of early Massive Attack, minimal samples of guitar, fretless bass, and strings providing a murky, noir-like tone. See You In Tokyo sounds just as sinister, but this time the song is propelled by an acoustic drum sample (note the outstanding use of the ride cymbal sample), and has more of an early ’80s electro touch. The terrific She’s Dead To Me cranks up the intensity, a frenzied blend of synth bleeps, screeches, and frenetic beats, while the more dance-oriented Pointe du pied and Girls Up Front are more playful, each possessing whimsical melodies.

The latter half of the album returns to the darker side of Books on Tape’s sound. The careening Death In the Sex Shop sounds like a video game soundtrack, with its frantic jungle beats and siren-like synths adding to the song’s menacing, nocturnal feel. The song immediately segues into Siberian Soundsystem, one of the album’s most inspired moments, as Drootin adds swirling noise that weaves in and out of the stark breakbeats, making for a harrowing, enthralling listening experience. But the true highlight of Sings the Blues is the seven-and-a-half-minute The Crucial, an entrancing, intoxicating blend of a slow, insistent drum sample, a looped acoustic guitar riff, and a brief saxophone sample that repeats throughout the track. Over the course of the song, Drootin throws in various samples, like electric piano, flute, synth, jungle-like snare drum samples, and electric guitar, making the song an extended, free-form solo. The sax may add an instantly recognizable sound that would strike the listener as being “jazzy”, but it’s what Drootin does with the other elements of the track, his spontaneity and inventiveness, that makes this song more jazz-influenced than the usual electronic piece.

Sings the Blues does run a little long (65 minutes), and it would have been nice to hear Drootin continue in the direction of The Crucial, but for the most part he manages to keep things fresh. The album might hit a speed bump here and there, but the ride is mostly fun, and never dull.

… a 65-minute mishmash of myriad musical styles that is sometimes dark, sometimes warm, the overall tone of the record changing with almost every track…

Kritik

bleed, De:Bug, February 1, 2004

Ach, und wenn der wirklich den Blues singt, dann in Tief-, Schief- und Schräglagen, von denen einem gar nicht bewusst war, dass sie auch den Blues haben. Todd Drootin mit einer Platte voller Oldschoolflavour in digitaler Neubearbeitung, voller tragischer Momente, die einen packen, leisen und leichten, überdimensioniert in Szene gesetzten Elementen, die mal HipHop, dann Breaks, dann irgendwie eher DIY-rockig, immer aber mit einem abwegig strangen Charme loskicken. Immer unterwegs und niemals verlegen um eine kleine Melodie zuviel, oder eine Passage, die langwierig abschweift, nur um einen dann stehen zu lassen als wäre einem gerade eine kleine Erleuchtung passiert. Laptopfolklore zwischen Freeflowpunk und Beatbox. 5/5

5/5

Review

Rob Geary, Grooves, no. 12, February 1, 2004

Books on Tape covers a lot of ground, but of course what he doesn’t do is sing the blues. Todd Drootin’s live shows have been dubbed something like laptop punk for his infectious energy. On record it’s Drootin versus his record collection, dicing samples into bits you can nearly recognize but can’t quite. While Akufen takes a similar approach into herky-jerky house, Books on Tape winds up with something like sinister downtempo that retains some of the warmth and texture of its sources. Break Sings the Blues into single tracks, and they could fit on any number of compilations, where they would be standout tracks.

Frisson works backward strings and low-resolution bass into a dub quagmire that would sound at home on ~scape; She’s Dead To Me becomes a spastic flute and drumtaps workout that sounds a bit like T Raumschmiere’s menacing funk. What keeps Sings the Blues together is Drootin’s grasp of structure and the sense of unrealized possibility left in his sounds: The Crucial sets ominous piano against a short, piercing horn phrase that could have turned sweet or sinister with the next notes - we’ll never know.

Books on Tape winds up with something like sinister downtempo that retains some of the warmth and texture of its sources.

Review

Rich Juzwiak, Magnet, February 1, 2004

Todd Drootin (a.k.a. Books on Tape) also wants to rock. The difference is, he knows how. Nothing sums him up better than the Pixies sticker on the side of his mixer. His rollicking approach to IDM deconstructs live guitar and bass loops via injections of white noise and hyper- distorted beats. Simultaneously gorgeous, fun and ear-splitting. Sings the Blues feels as important as drill’n’bass masterworks by Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and µ-ziq, only it trades animosity for swagger. The album’s title is a big lie: infrequent vocals are hacked to bits and fuzzed out like the rest of it.

Sings the Blues feels as important as drill’n’bass masterworks by Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and µ-ziq…

Review

Neslon L, Stylus Magazine, February 1, 2004

Todd Drootin a.k.a. Books on Tape has offered up some of his best work yet on Sings the Blues. Todd’s production on this album is the type of beautiful sorrow that keeps you listening, although not all of the songs are emotional; Books on Tape is a great mixture of hype tracks and heartfelt beats. The second song, Republic Of, is a perfect example of the blues element of the album. Books on Tape is a producer, and although there is no singing on the album, it is still tremendously entertaining; Books on Tape can tell a story in a song without even using words. With his past catalogue of work, it seems Books on Tape will leave his mark as one of the great producers. Track four is a lot more hyped up, but the title She’s Dead To Me suggests the emotions he is trying to communicate. The ninth track Circus Animal Battle Rap (instrumental), also an instrumental, offers comic relief in the form of a circus seal sample amidst a hot beat. This is a great album from start to finish.

This is a great album from start to finish.

Review

Martin Lomas, The Music Womb, January 15, 2004

Laptop lad Todd Drootin has made something very different, very complete and very satisfying. The format is like that of a DJ set. But the sheer imagination that conjured all the myriad of beats and sounds here is a joy to behold. The thing is alive with quirky grooves, abused samples and an old-timey feel enhanced with hiss and crackle where need be. What should often be pretty cheesy is cool and oh so good to move to. More than enough variety to keep you unsettled. This would be one helluva great party record to get people going. Bloody genius.

… cool and oh so good to move to. Bloody genius.

Review

Foghorn, Chicken-head Records, no. 9, January 1, 2004

Books on Tape was recently nominated for an award in the L.A. Weekly in the uncategorizable category. Although it didn’t win (many publications called it a robbery), it stands alone on top of the electronic heap. The brainchild of Books on Tape, Todd Drootin, composed, performed and recorded all the music contained on this disc. Upon first listening, I was absolutely floored by what I heard. Uncategorizable is a complete understatement! Comprised of complete electronics, this disc takes you on an unexplainable ride into everywhere and nowhere all at once. There are so many sounds and noises throughout you have got to wonder how this one guy came up with all this and put it together the way he did. This definitely is not for everyone and is definitely not hardcore by any stretch, but it’s uniqueness is one of the main reasons I like it. Nine Inch Nails and Pavement fans take notice! There is a new electronic project on the block that is above and beyond anything you might have heard, and it’s name is Books on Tape.

Uncategorizable is a complete understatement!

Review

Cracked, January 1, 2004

Fine second album by LA-electronica artist Books on Tape. The digipak with the Blue Note-design brings you sixteen straight forward electronic instrumentals that range from laidback experimental hip hop to sleazy porn-grooves and everything in between. Sometimes the music is as superficial as a can of tuna, then he adds some experimental flavour, effects and samples to keep me happy. Strange sense of humour for sure, but also a multi-layered, ever-changing example of a completely uninhibited attitude towards music, by someone who might say that “to rock” is the most important thing and who may think that “hyperactive” is a compliment. Well, if you look at it that way, he is right.

Being compared to Timbaland, Aphex Twin and Sonic Youth within one paragraph must be hard to swallow for any artist. It so happened to Todd Drootin aka Books on Tape. Had to be someone who only listened into Sings the Blues half-assed and with his mind set on finding some astounding and purchase-inducing comparisons. Or maybe this writer-person only read the thanks-list of Books on Tape in this record, which actually does name Sonic Youth and Timbaland (but not Aphex Twin), as well as Talking Heads, Pavement, Albert Ayler, Public Enemy, The Fall, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Neil Young, Mike Patton, The Pixies and David Bowie, plus some others. But not because these people are making music that is somewhere and partly found also in Sings the Blues - a foolish notion that will always end in one of two extremes: every song / track is different from any other song / track or all music is one and the same, but I’d strongly advise to keep zen-philosophy out of electronic music as much as possible. There is one characteristic combining these artists mentioned, and that is their attitude towards making music. All of them followed their own vision and tried and kept on trying to produce something new and unique. Insofar it is a good idea to take them as mentors and idols for any aspiring musician. Two questions have to be asked, though: Why is there not a single artists from the electronic genre in the thanks list? And does Books on Tape produce something new and unique?

I’ll skip the first question for pure low-brow-journalism and get right to the more important one concerning the musical progress and artistical content of Books on Tape. The answer is, yes, there is something about Sings the Blues that is new and striking, but at a lot of times the tracks also seem a little unfinished or not quite ready yet. Todd Drootin obviously enjoys to mix intricate atmospheres around driving beats with spliced samples and then pours some blatantly stupid keyboard-melodies over it. So he might start a track with some glitches and clicks of the finest making, then hit you in the neck with a keyboard line that might come straight from Giorgo Moroder only to start a 160bpm-weirdo-rhythm over that all, complete with drum’n’bass-licks and -fills here and there. Then he bangs you around the head with that for several minutes and calls it Death In the Sex Shop. He does that over and over again on Sings the Blues without ever really repeating himself. It reminds me of painting something beautiful very realistically, then pouring red paint over it and then sticking a glimmering star with as a tag to the upper right corner.

Most of the time Books on Tape rocks like the Seventies did. His humour and straight-forwardness are definitely advantages, especially when playing live and, for once, this is an electronic act I’d like to see live. He might bring the sweatiness and rockbeats of live-guitar-bands back to the dancefloors, so DJs might be interested in this record, so they can scrap a little of the atmosphere for their sets. I am quite sure, that Todd Drootin wants to become famous and beloved, a rock-star in a sense, but I only judge from the exhaustive thanks-list, the screaming info-sheet and the stadium-compatible beats of this record. A big step for a laptop-musician in any perspective. Personally, I prefer the more laidback and relaxed tracks, that are a little more experimental and use strange sounds and settings, rather than the straight forward rockers. So I’d rather listen to tracks such as Republic Of (my highlight). But all in all, Sings the Blues is an interesting record to be used on various occasions, by people who are not easily distracted by conflicting sounds and styles.

Strange sense of humour […] a multi-layered, ever-changing example of a completely uninhibited attitude towards music…

Review

Marc Weingarten, Entertainment Weekly, December 10, 2003

Todd Drootin makes happy fun-time techno, the kind of playful, whimsical music that would work best soundtracking Japanese anime or chase sequences involving Tonka trucks. He’s a compulsive tinkerer; with their squishy sound effects, caffenaited tracks like See you in Tokyo and She’s dead to me have the feel of push-button improv, as if Drootin is checking the full capabilities of his circuitry whule he’s recording. Unlike so much electro-funk, Sings the Blues offers a lot of interesting terrain to explore. Grade: B+

Grade: B+

Review

Walt Miller, Splendid E-Zine, December 3, 2003

If you judge a book by its cover (get it? Books on Tape? “book by its cover”?), LA resident Todd Drootin, the latest punker turned electronic miscreant whom you need to know, might seem more of a fit within the Tigerbeat6 clique than a Montréal highbrow label like No Type (which has jointly released this sophomore album in Europe and Canada). In Drootin’s world, everything is fair game. Electronica, hip hop, rock, jazz, breakbeats, theme pop: it’s all in there, as long as it can be used, abused and bent into compliance — albeit barely — with a shit-eating grin. Books on Tape’s mischievous core is exposed as a whimsical bright spot within IDM’s crowded field — much like a Kid606, to whom he’s often compared. However, with abstraction seeming to be the rule these days, Drootin represents a stark contrast to his laptop peers, as his sound is relatively unmolested by plug-in technique. Sings the Blues has its own methods of unearthing balls-to-the-wall stream of consciousness; here, the sonic freeflow that wants to be Zappa-electro-free jazz is kept in check by linear production and a high degree of organization. Where some artists rely on wayward mouse clicks to give their music a push, Drootin has a plan. Needless to say, it’s refreshing.

Early on, Sings the Blues (which, if you haven’t figured out by now, has little do with the blues), hits you over the head with playful hooks and personality to match, gradually becoming less civilized as the raucous energy takes over. Tracks like Republic Of (a mix of Amon Tobin and Prefuse 73 hip-hop futurism) and See You In Tokyo (in which the Batman and Munsters themes collide in a Shibuya backyard alley) team with hip hop and rock sensibility — an alliance that Drootin won’t let you forget. Girls Up Front gives a taste of Drootin’s beat programming pedigree, a complex barrage of loop science in which our hero throws another rock bassline into the prickly chaos of the Squarepushin’ briar patch. The cartoonish Death In the Sex Shop continues the arc; its berserker onslaught could be likened to Naked City on a crack high after an all-night recording session with every product in the Sweetwater catalog.

Toward the album’s end, Drootin lays in with a masterstroke of choppy techno-funk on Sidekick, a rare moment of obvious digital processing discipline. Otherwise, Books on Tape flaunts each meticulously programmed note, as well as each breakbeat loop notched carefully upon the next — in some ways, a throwback to the days when MIDI churned through Cakewalk and 16 note polyphony. Thankfully, Drootin doesn’t overthink things. His melodic leads — there are quite a few — are not fancy; it’s as if he hits record and taps in the next tuneful thing that pops into his head, and never mind the inspired skullduggery that surrounds it. Mike Paradinas perfected this trait, but Books on Tape takes it to a different plane altogether, where even a track like The Crucial, with its ironic Prodigy-style breakdown, can succeed with the help of thematic contortions. It would be a mistake to brand Books on Tape as less sophisticated based on Drootin’s apparent methods, but it’s worth mentioning this point because it sets him apart from his competitors.

Books on Tape’s mischievous core is exposed as a whimsical bright spot within IDM’s crowded field…

Recensione

Nicola Catalano, Blow Up, no. 67, December 1, 2003

[…] molto meglio allora l’album del collega d’etichetta Todd Drootin, in arte Books on Tape, nel quale però - a dispetto del titolo - di blues non v’è traccia. Piuttosto un iper-cinetico e ruspante pot-pourri di dub, hip hop, spy-music e goicosi breaks fumettistici in saldo equilibrio sul filo d’un onnipresente sentore di sound design filmico (e poi date uno sguardo ai ringraziamenti che spaziano da Albert Ayler a David Bowie, da Art Ensemble of Chicago a Gang of Four…)

Critique

Julien Jaffré, Jade, November 10, 2003

On se figurait avec une bonne grosse dose de dépit et de raccourcis intellectuels que l’horizontalité d’une ville telle que Los Angeles finissait par marquer sévérement les esprits de ses habitants, leurs interdisant toutes ambitions d’ascension ou d’investissement culturel.

Un relief que n’a pas manqué de souligner puis d’épouser le public Canadien à l’écoute des premiers jets de Books on Tape (autrement connu sous Click Tracy, Sluts on Tape, Tape Science Version ou Box Social); engouement constant depuis Throw Down Your Laptops (Deathbomb Arc) sans évoquer les maxis sur Piehead et Winning Rec. No Type qui après un 10" diffuse ici son long métrage expose avec toute sa franchise la dynamique rythmique que le label souhaitait offrir à son identité.

Du beatpunk, selon les termes de leurs amateurs, dissimulé au long de ce disque sous des mélopées électroniques, couloirs dub, voire des révérences à l’électronique Body Musique et aux résurgences néo-industriel (7) dans ce cas précis sans intêret.

En résumé, les plis crasseux de la jeunesse sonique et les contre ourlets complexes des écuries Tigerbeat/ Warp/ Planet Mu. Une union heureuse au delà du papier qui scelle nous l’avons dit, après Headphone Science et Œuf Korreckt l’appétit du label pour une musique rythmique en marge.

Books on Tape (Todd Drootin) avec ce Sings the Blues en dépit d’une abscence quasi totale de références au style (si ce n’est le clin d’œil de l’intitulé) donne à entendre une vision passionnée des genres qui transcende les étiquettes et les clivages. Si d’aucun hurleront à l’hérésie, au mariage contre-nature, il est pourtant ici davantage question de transcendance.

Une union heureuse au delà du papier qui scelle […] l’appétit du label pour une musique rythmique en marge.

Critique

Laurent Catala, Octopus, no. 25, November 1, 2003

Review

Cory O’Malley, LA Alternative Press, October 29, 2003

Loyal readers of the Alternative Press will recognize Books on Tape as one of the season’s musicians to watch, and Sings the Blues seconds the suggestion that this is one of the most criminally under-appreciated acts in Los Angeles. It always sounds stupidly elitist to say so, but Books on Tape - who is Todd Drootin, alone - may just be too clever and too difficult for popular acceptance. One immediately thinks of the limitations of a one-man-band with no vocals, although the adaptability of the sampler is Drootin’s platform. Recorded sound is only going to take a musician so far without the knowledge and imagination to sculpt the sound, and Books on Tape creates a tactile musical collage in every track on this, Drootin’s second LP. Kind of like a versatile mix of Prefuse 73 and Aphex Twin, Books on Tape explores everything from electro to samba to jungle to punk rock to avant funk. The music on this album just doesn’t sit still, as every sustained groove is punctuated by near-complete unpredictability in the form of synthesized sound breaks, noise, static, and complex, creative percussion arrangements. Listen to this hour-plus album build in intensity as it plays, rarely failing to surprise and to enchant. Top notch.

… this is one of the most criminally under-appreciated acts in Los Angeles… Top notch.

Review

Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera, no. 2003_m, October 23, 2003

Todd Drootin creates/constructs material from loops, whether sampled or self-created, into a dancing dramatic techno. The first time I listened, a bit fragmented, it seemed somewhat monochrome, but subsequent excursions have shown it to be a fun filled time.

Laptop Blues opens with a short guitar strum loop that wobbles from ear to ear and then varispeeds away. We get really going with Republic Of setting the tone and structure - varied loops, percussive and melodic (including guitar), layered onto each other crackles and changes, slowing and returning and slowing right back. This has a jolly rhythms that reminded me of the Clash in its dubby sections. They returned later on Girls Up Front where the fast samples drums and loops with a strong bass, recalled Armageddon time. With See You In Tokyo there is a building percussion from simple tap, plus cymbal, bass, snare and organ to a fast beachy sound that is part B-52’s rest sci-fi weirdness, emphasised through some changes.

The album then goes through all sorts of moods with these tracks - She’s Dead To Me is fast and furious (a few are) gunge with strong drums; Pointe du pied has a popcorn feel but slower, simple synth melodies, finally a bit dubby; white noise pulses , organs and synth sound Russian in Death In the Sex Shop and there is a continuing Cossack feel with Siberian Soundsystem that also includes some wailing voices amongst the layers; jangly samples, voice loops rubbery and stomping Circus Animal Battle Rap (instrumental). The mood changes with Frisson a slower backward toney more ambient track that has some distorted and spooky elements to it, followed by a more dirty and rocking Bicycle Beat, pulsing and crackling after which Shake That is somehow more “studied”, slower with voice loops and slowing tones, trumpet and drum. The pace rebuilds for the clarinet-drenched The Crucial a long and involved piece moving through a few states and chopping in organ and piano. Unlucky Bounce is solid with some dirty guitar and a piano melody over computer bootling. Choppy and slippery Sidekick is followed by the buzzing and sinuous Church Bus whose heavy rhythms close the album.

A fun excursion, worth reading.

… a dancing dramatic techno… a fun filled time.

Ten Bands You Need to Know About

Lesley Bargar, LA Alternative Press, October 22, 2003

[…] Valley native Todd Drootin (a.k.a. Books on Tape) suffers from a severe case of electronic epilepsy. Standing behind his series of odd sequencers and mysterious boxes bursting with knobs, levers, and who-knows-what, the man seems to compose in a fit of spontaneity. However, the brilliant premeditation is evident in how friggin’ good his stuff is. Using samples as minimal as a single guitar chord or bass line as his palate, Drootin mixes in blips, buzzes and other kinds of primitive electronic noises to create music that is somewhat punk, somewhat dancey and often cinematic in scope. The project began when Drootin wanted to play music but lacked the space necessary to store his various bulky traditional instruments. Sequencers, about the size of shoeboxes (but a lot more fun), seemed like the way to go. What has grown out of this space-issue is a full-fledged act that is less “electroclash,” and more a direct result of influences such as jazz, punk, indie, and just plain rock. Books on Tape shows have been described as “high-energy gymnastics” and even the most die-hard electronic traditionalists and jaded indie-rockers have been known to break a smile watching the frantic, knob-turning, pedal-slamming spectacle that is a Books on Tape show. Drootin has had the opportunity to play with such established acts as Cursive, Rilo Kiley and Stars as Eyes. The debut Books on Tape album received high critical acclaim and became a staple on college radio stations nationwide. Drootin feels that his recently released second album, Sings the Blues, captures the vibe of his live performances. He has been invited to play at this year’s CMJ festival in New York City and can be expected to surpass the Los Angeles underground soon enough. […]

… the brilliant premeditation is evident in how friggin’ good his stuff is.

Review

Adrian Zupp, Rolling Stone, October 22, 2003

Books on Tape, a.k.a. ’puter noodler Todd Drootin, are an acquired taste. Unquestionably interesting and indisputably arcane, Books’ synthetic-music experimentalism is a nuthouse art gallery for your brain. Fixate on a track title and let the scene gel in your mind’s eye: She’s Dead To Me (manic and disturbing), Death In the Sex Shop (stranglehold manic), Church Bus (ominous industrial), See You In Tokyo (curiously Teutonic-styled menace intermingled with Talking Heads frivolity), Circus Animal Battle Rap (instrumental) (edgy and onomatopoeic). The best moments are definitely the darker ones. When things get too vanilla (e.g. the Pollyanna minimalism of Pointe du pied) the engagement quotient declines noticeably. But all that’s forgiven and forgotten when you hit cuts like the sax-n-drugs The Crucial. A tumbling bundle of samples, loops and general electro doodling, Sings the Blues plays hopscotch across your synapses and gets you thinking about things you’ve never done and probably shouldn’t.

Review

Anne Sulikowski, Earshot, October 21, 2003

I feel this array of warmth and romance when I listen to Sings the Blues (for a hopeless romantic like me that is a good thing). This release by Books on Tape is mainly comprised of samples from Todd Drootin’s girlfriend Kerri’s record collection. He explains in his liner notes “Books on Tape is as much hers as it is mine… besides I love her and I sample her records…” How sweet is that…

Todd also explains that Books on Tape would not have happened without Pavement, Talking Heads, Albert Ayler, Sonic Youth (the band of dreams), Sun Ra, Wire, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Neil Young, Mike Patton, Gang of Four, The Pixies, Public Enemy, The Fall and David Bowie. Sounds like she has an awesome record collection to me. The music on Sings the Blues is to say the least captivating and interesting. Ranging from these slow, sexy, experimental dub-esque sounds to upbeat clip hop this release as a whole is like this awesome mix-tape of a listen, with each song building towards the unraveling of the next song. It is seamless and powerful and full of bubbly fun. I really enjoyed the track Frisson as it demonstrates Todd’s immense talents in the musical arrangement of collected fragments, segments and slices. Frisson is a heart drenched lullaby sung to you from outer space. I love this CD more each time I listen again and again…

It is seamless and powerful and full of bubbly fun.… a heart drenched lullaby sung to you from outer space. I love this CD more each time I listen again and again…

Review

Philip Raffaele, Absorb, October 9, 2003

After his debut album battle cry Throw Down Your Laptops on Deathbomb Arc, and critical acclaim on both sides of the atlantic, Todd Drootin brings his messy electric-noise-analogue sound back to the forefront with sixteen tracks of old fashioned sonic construction. the styles and genres that weave in and out of this record are pretty amazing, in the way that they continually sound fresh and not as repetitive as a project like this could be. Republic Of ends up as a successful downtempo number, with a simple break-beat sound moving back and forth. See You In Tokyo picks up the tempo a bit, but not succumbing to any kind of conventional electronic track archetype. the notes throb like a bad ekg reading.

Structure is the most important element to Drootin’s work. He never seems to take the easy way out, (which apparently is what laptop music programming is to him), and continually loop samples and sections; each song is strategically arranged, and the sounds all take on a life of their own, all orchestrated rather amazingly.

Healthy and lively, this is an excellent argument to all of those people sick of how easy electronic music has become to both create and consume. By combining an amalgam of musical styles, all under one basic pretense, of making music in a somewhat organized fashion, in order to reach an end result of it sounding enjoyable, Books on Tape does so in a way that sounds unbelievably brand new and non-recycled. Quite a breath of fresh air in a stifled genre.

Quite a breath of fresh air in a stifled genre.

Review

François Couture, AllMusic, September 23, 2003

Listening to a Books on Tape album is a bit like watching an old detective series. You know all the cliches: the cars, the girls, the guns, the attitudes, and yet every time one of those features pop up on the screen you can’t help but smile and be glad they’re still there. Not to say that Todd Drootin uses the same tricks over and over, but he does get into that zone where you are not surprised when he tries to surprise you. And that’s just perfect. Kid606 does something similar but with a cynicism that makes your teeth grind. Sings the Blues is instead a labor of good-humored pranskterism and double-dare dance tunes. No source is sacred: Drootin plunders everything, from electronica to rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention free jazz — who’s that saxophone in The Crucial that is looped into an insisting leitmotiv? The technique is crudely basic: sample unrelated tunes, loop and reconstruct them into pieces that will run around like baby Frankenstein monsters — they bump into each other, put themselves back together and start running again in a different direction. The melody is constantly cheerful, simplistic, irresistible. In fact, you could say that Books on Tape is the missing link between Kid606 and Felix Kubin. Highlights include Republic Of, She’s Dead To Me, the spooky Frisson and the aforementioned The Crucial. It’s all good chopped-up, jerky, yet very sleek fun.

… a labor of good-humored pranskterism and double-dare dance tunes.

Review

Stefan Koopmanschap, Electronic Music World, September 21, 2003

Funny, downtempo, uptempo, slightly experimental, melodic. All keywords of Books on Tape Sings the Blues. The only thing possible missing is the blues.

Those who know Books on Tape a bit know the sometimes freaky, but always attractive rhythms, bass and melodies that can come from the mastermind that is Todd Drootin. This disc definately does not really change anything about that: It just confirms that a mad genius is at work here.

A highly entertaining album of weird freakiness, laidback downtempo and experimental fun.

… a mad genius is at work here.

Review

Boban Ristevski, Igloo, September 9, 2003

Books on Tape is Todd Drootin who is known from his MP3-label Subverseco. Todd also makes music as Click Tracy and is involved in few other projects like Dewey Decimator (with Kerri Kerrang), Sluts On Tape (with Eryk Salvaggio), Tape Science Version (with Dustin Craig) and Box Social (with David Klotz). You can find MP3s from many of these names at Subverseco.

What’s important to say about Todd’s musical influences is that he’s a huge fan of Pavement, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Art Ensemble Of Chicago (and lots more) and calls his electronic music style “beatpunk”. It’s music with lots of energy, noisy beats and often unconventional rhythms --loud, beat-oriented and uncompromising songs. Not being a personal interpretation of a well known musical expression, Books on Tape goes in another direction - fresh, new, funny and yet very serious and adventurous. Sings the Blues is recommended for those who like great new adventures in lo-fi music.

… fresh, new, funny and yet very serious and adventurous.

La communauté No Type

David Cantin, Le Devoir, September 6, 2003

Depuis deux ans, l’étiquette montréalaise No Type (affiliée au site Internet www.notype.com) affiche une croissance rapide et judicieuse. Avant la fin 2003, on parle déjà d’atteindre la quinzième parution dans le créneau assez vaste des musiques électroniques. Après un passage remarqué au festival Mutek au printemps, la nouvelle saison s’annonce d’ailleurs plus prometteuse que jamais. Cette semaine, l’album Bleak 1999 du Canadien Tomas Jirku arrive chez les disquaires au même moment que l’electronica délinquante et peu orthodoxe de Books on Tape.

Depuis les débuts du site, en 1998, on prône chez No Type une liberté artistique foisonnante. Toutefois, selon David Turgeon, le fondateur du label, il s’agit de bâtir un catalogue qui s’appuie sur une cohérence nécessaire. «On constate que deux lignes directrices s’imposent au fil des sorties. Il existe une certaine dualité entre les recherches assez expérimentales de Coin Gutter, par exemple, et une électronique IDM plus accessible comme celle de Headphone Science. On souhaite que ces choix se précisent encore davantage avec le temps.» Il faut peut-être savoir que No Type a aussi beaucoup contribué à l’éclosion d’artistes fort importants tels Tomas Jirku ou encore l’énigmatique Claudia Bonarelli. D’ailleurs, le click-house de Jirku est d’abord apparu sur le site de cette communauté musicale avant d’atterrir chez Alien8 (Substractif), Intr_version, Force Inc ou Onitor.

Comme l’indique son titre, Bleak 1999 date de 1999, alors que Jirku pratiquait un minimalisme sombre et mélodique. Proche de son travail sous le nom de The Viceroy, cet album déstabilise grâce à des atmosphères aussi étranges qu’irréelles.

«On a affaire à une réalisation plus crue et directe, commente Turgeon, sans détours ou traitements inutiles, qui surprend par sa vélocité singulière. À mon avis, cet album-concept a très bien vieilli même s’il se détache du travail actuel de Tomas [l’excellent Plusism avec sa comparse Robin Judge]. Même s’il a la chance de sortir des CD sur des étiquettes aussi prestigieuses que Force Inc. en Allemagne, Tomas est toujours resté en contact étroit avec No Type. On demeure donc très heureux de pouvoir enfin lancer Bleak 1999.» Après sa prestation, la semaine dernière à Montréal, avec The Unireverse et DJ Tobias, Jirku, désormais installé à Vancouver, entreprend une tournée de deux mois qui le mènera en Europe et au Japon.

Parallèlement à cette sortie, No Type récidive avec le deuxième album de l’Américain Todd Drootin (mieux connu sous le pseudonyme Books on Tape). Membre du duo noise morceaux_de_machines, Érick d’Orion parle de Sings the Blues comme d’un ensemble de pièces qui pourrait surprendre les gens qui ne s’intéressent pas habituellement à l’électronique. «Todd fait partie de cette mouvance d’artistes électroniques qui proviennent du rock indépendant. C’est frais et intense. Il s’amuse à mêler les rythmes d’une manière très inattendue. Il remercie d’ailleurs sur son album des artistes aussi différents que Sonic Youth, Timbaland, Sun Ra et Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.» Le disque sortira même aux États-Unis chez Greyday, puis il sera possible de voir Books on Tape en spectacle au début novembre à Montréal avec la formation électro-punk française Métal Urbain.

Dans les projets à venir pour No Type, David Turgeon mentionne des nouveautés à venir de la part du duo inclassable Front, des Italiens de Metaxu, des très bruyants morceaux_de_machines et du glitch abstrait de 833-345, de même que son propre projet sous le nom de Camp. Pour en connaître davantage sur ce label imprévisible, on recommande de visiter le site www.notype.com, où différents albums sont disponibles en ligne.

… on prône chez No Type une liberté artistique foisonnante.

Review

Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, no. 071, September 6, 2003

One morning, I walked over to my car and discovered that it had been broken into during the night. The thieves were professional, in my view, and courteous too, since they managed to unlock the doors without causing a single scratch. But, alas, they still made off with all the CDs I had been collecting in there, about 10 or 12 at most, and nothing else was missing or damaged, so in the end it was just a nuisance that was best left ignored, to be taken lightly as a mere inconvenience. One of those CDs was the latest release from Books on Tape, the ongoing project by Todd Drootin who has been busy with a number of recent releases crowding the shelves of late. Sings the Blues, out on the No Type label (IMNT 088), is not a blues record, to be sure. It’s energy is incessantly high; right from the first moments, the hard, up-tempo, almost aggressive rhythms build your energy up to a raw, inexplicable high. Like a climax in a heist film, Henry Mancini’s music blaring wildly with jazz touches; but this isn’t Mancini, and there is no jazz touch here: it’s all electro, all pounding rhythms and simple, energetic melodies, from start to finish. If my copy wasn’t stolen, I couldn’t say how often I would return to this music, but it was great company for a few hi-speed car chases.

… the hard, up-tempo, almost aggressive rhythms build your energy up to a raw, inexplicable high.

Critique

Serge Roy, Convergence, no. 3:5, September 1, 2003

Deuxième CD de Books on Tape alias Todd Drootin, enfant du punk-rock s’étant tourné vers la musique électronique et le hip-hop dans les années 90. Malgré son titre, Sings the Blues, cet album n’a absolument rien à voir avec le blues. Il s’agit d’un mélange explosif de rythmes rapides, parfois downtempo sur fonds sonores de films amusants de série z avec bruits divers, distorsions, échantillons de voix sectionnées, effets de grattage de guitares sur séquenceur, présences de lignes de synthétiseurs et mélodies des plus distrayantes frôlant l’hérésie. Une loufoquerie dotée d’une belle fraîcheur et d’une sacrée énergie qui force le respect. Un résultat hors du commun des plus original. Une œuvre remarquable à découvrir d’un des artisans les plus prometteur de l’électro nouveau.

Une loufoquerie dotée d’une belle fraîcheur et d’une sacrée énergie qui force le respect.

Review

Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 385, August 20, 2003

In a short time span, this is the third release by Books on Tape (see also Vital Weekly 361 and 376), the solo project of Todd Drootin, who once more takes his punk attitude to the sampler and cooks up a nice meal of hip hop, punk and techno. Whereas the recent 10" was maybe a bit long, the balance here is right. The sixteen tracks are one long driving energy force of energetic pieces that breath the speed of punk, but takes it’s sampled sources from anywhere in history of music - jazz, blues, techno - but without sounding like that at all. Despite the title, Books on Tape may sing a lot of tunes, but definetely not the blues. Maybe it’s a more raw version of Moby at times. Freshly aggressive, raw and untamed. Quite an enjoyable effort.

Freshly aggressive, raw and untamed. Quite an enjoyable effort.

Blog

  • Temporarily leaving his warm California, Books on Tape will tour north-eastern America and will be live January 23, 2004 at Bella Muse (Halifax, NS), January 28 at Casa del Popolo (Montréal), January 30 at the East River Music Project benef…

    Friday, January 9, 2004 / In concert
  • It’s out, and it’s so nice. It’s Books on Tape Sings the Blues. Let’s make this clear: this is one of the most dynamic, eclectic and enjoyable CDs you will have heard of all year. Todd Drootin’s sampler technique is unmatched by anyone, and…

    Monday, September 8, 2003 / New releases

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