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.