Artists Books on Tape

Books on Tape

  • Composer

AKA

Associated Groups

Books on Tape, photo: Debra DiPaulo
Books on Tape, photo: Debra DiPaulo
  • Books on Tape, photo: Kerri Kirchheimer
  • Books on Tape, photo: Kerri Kirchheimer
  • Books on Tape, photo: Kerri Kirchheimer
  • Books on Tape, photo: Kerri Kirchheimer
  • Books on Tape, photo: Kerri Kirchheimer
  • Books on Tape, photo: Kerri Kirchheimer, Todd Drootin

Main Releases

Alien8 Recordings / ALIEN 60 / 2005
No Type / IMNT 078 / 2003
No Type / IMNT 088 / 2003
Deathbomb Arc / DBA 011 / 2002

Appearances

Various artists
Mental Monkey / MMR 004 / 2003
Various artists
Deathbomb Arc / DBA 009 / 2002
Various artists
No Type / IMNT 0201/02 / 2002
Various artists
Skylab Operations / SKY 12 / 2002

Complements

Various artists
Gonzo Circus / GC 055 / 2004
  • Not in catalogue
Greyday Productions / GDP 014 / 2004
  • Not in catalogue

In the Press

Review

Marc Medwin, Dusted Magazine, June 20, 2012

Editions Mego inaugurates a new vinyl reissue imprint with two titles from the GRM catalog. The music represents the diversity that was the guiding spirit of composers in the Groupe de Recherche Musicales, founded by Pierre Schaeffer and of which Guy Reibel was an early member. Yet, there are some striking similarities that unite these two mid-1970s slabs of acousmatic music.

The story of how Pierre Schaeffer, first a radio engineer and then a composer, experimented in the late 1940s, having only French-radio turntables and stunning intuition, creating what he called “Musique Concrete” using sounds from every-day life, has become integral to a study of music history. These experiments gave rise to his concept of acousmatic sound, which, very briefly, involves sound whose sources remain unseen by the listener. Less well known is his return to something more like traditional musical values, as represented by this, his final musical work, completed in 1975.

In Le Trièdre Fertile, Schaeffer explores frequency, duration and intensity, and while these concerns informed some of his earlier compositions, here, they are addressed using purely electronic sounds. Listening to these transparent timbres emerge and disappear in starkly juxtaposed blocks does conjure shades of Schaeffer’s earliest musical works, such as the railroad studies of 1948, but with electronic sound synthesis, he can achieve infinitely complex gradations of microtone and vibrato in tandem with constantly morphing timbres. Listen to the hammered pitches slide in and out of focus in the work’s first two minutes, both individually and in relationship to each other. As the piece progresses, elements of drone (not so common in his earlier pieces) swell and fade, sometimes with microtonal inflections, sometimes creating gorgeous harmonies I can only describe as post-Romantic or unisons that sound as if they’ve emerged from the Gregorian Chant repertoire. Simultaneously, non-pitched timbres add layers of rhythmic complexity. These are in no way similar to the shockingly human sounds that Xenakis was using to create his La Legende D’Eer; rather, the emphasis seems to be on beauty and clarity of line and rhythm. Schaeffer and synthesist Bernard Durr created a fascinating kind of new counterpoint that would have yielded many fruitful paths of discovery, if other concerns had not occupied Schaeffer in later life.

At just about the same time, Schaeffer’s former assistant, Guy Reibel, was engaged in creating his first major foray into the acousmatic world. Reibel was born 26 years later than Schaeffer, and though completed a year before Le Trièdre Fertile, the opening several minutes of Franges du Signe delves deeper into the sonic landscape his teacher was creating. The wavy timbres, distinct at first, coalesce into an increasingly intense and unclear swarm of interwoven lines, traversing the stereo spectrum, but, like Coltrane’s Meditations, bits of pitched clarity can be heard, as with the little melodic figure at 3:37. Long sustains are integral to Franges’s structure, like the massive drone beginning at 15:33; even when these swatches of sound fray and fragment, their dismembered components inundate rapidly rather than allowing themselves to form orderly lines or groups. While its timbres seem to be derived mainly from electronic sources, Granulations-Sillages combines electronic and electroacoustic sounds in a dizzying array of dynamic and rhythmic extremes. Dense clouds of rapid-fire archetypal allusion abound, simulating opening doors, distorted human voices and transcultural string instruments against a space-age backdrop. It’s as if Reibel is intent on exploring and exploding the boundaries Schaeffer had spent so much time and effort erecting.

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.

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.

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…

Blog

By continuing browsing our site, you agree to the use of cookies, which allow audience analytics.