BY PELLE GUNTHER It feels wrong to even begin calling this show at the Troc a concert. It was an experience. A musical and visual trip through the bizarre and fascinating sonic hodgepodge that is the art of Nick Zummuto and Paul de Jong, the duo more commonly known as The Books. After releasing their first album in about 5 years, the band was back and ready to play some wild sampledelic folktronica. They played with the assistance of what I assume was a flash drive and PowerPoint, as they flipped from song to song, only once restarting a song due to a computer failure. Along with Nick, Paul and their PowerPoint, a new member joined in their musical experimentation, sharing in melting pot of instruments, which traveled around the band like mono among teens. The new member seemed to be just as musically talented as the original two, playing every instrument they had except for the cello, which I’m sure de Jong was keeping well out of reach for fear of losing the instrument to this new member’s virtuosity. The whole group was extremely witty and humorous on stage, especially Zummuto who was extremely likeable and personable, constantly making witty observations that had everyone in titters.
Just like their albums, The Books were quirky as hell. With a few exceptions, every song they played was accompanied by odd assortments of video clips, sometimes seemingly random, and many times manipulated along with the music, which in many cases made the songs finally feel complete. The opening song, “Group Autogenics I,” (which is also the first track on the new album-The Way Out,) had the whole crowd fighting back a bad case of the giggles as band told us that “…this music, specifically created for its pleasurable effects on your mind, body and emotions…is mixed with a warm, orange colored liquid.” The music itself wandered from a wild death march called “We Bought the Flood,” to a very educational tune about Golfing called “I Didn’t Know That,” which could almost be classified as dance music (or as close as folktronic could come to dance). Although I still don’t know that and remain quite cloudy on what exactly they were teaching us, there were definitely a few video clips of people vacuuming a golf course. Although they played mostly tunes from the new album, the band did take time to revisit some of the classics like “Tokyo,” and “Smells Like Content,” which was accompanied by witty misspellings of the lyrics.
After finishing their set the band came out for an encore, which, Zummuto remarked, they had previously been against; however he had to admit that they loved hearing the crowd cheer for them. They ended this lovely evening at the Troc with “Cello Song.” Although they didn’t have Jose Gonzales with them to add his dulcet vocals, Zummuto took lead vocals, taking home the night with a powerful performance of one of their best-known tunes. After 5 years away from composing, the Books definitely still have got IT, whatever IT is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pelle Gunther is a recent graduate of Kimberton Waldorf High School.