Despite a relatively lengthy five year hiatus, it wasn’t so much a surprise that the Books would come back strong, but that they would come back so demonstratively. The Way Out (2010) retained the found-sound, electro-acoustic duo’s subtle, meticulous attention to detail, but also saw the group implementing a forthright, almost funky undercurrent of rhythm, particularly on tracks like “I Didn’t Know That.” It was an invigorating new direction, one that half of the duo, Nick Zammuto, seems intent on building upon with “Yay,” a self-released track from his newly unveiled solo guise, Zammuto.
The Books utilize vocal samples in a manner as distinct as any other modern experimental act, yet on record this source material has remained more or less intact. On “Yay,” however, Zammuto chops, loops, and sends pinwheeling a vocal sample like an appropriated beat source, stutter-stepping like a Mount Kimbie or Gold Panda outtake. The latter’s breakthrough 2010 track, “You,” even feels like a reference point here, building as it does an infectious melody out of shards of broken syllables. The track’s rigid foundation of sharply struck floor toms and warm organ tones provide an appropriate axis for Zammuto’s playful edits, which kind of careen joyously around the mix in carefully deployed increments. It’s so instantly enjoyable and infectious that it ends up playing almost like a traditional three-minute pop single, yet with a slightly off-kilter bent that never allows the listener to get too comfortable. Instead, Zammuto invites us to move in close and savor the intricacies, all the while proving that the line between hardnosed experimentation and unconscious euphoria can be smeared into a streamlined piece perfect for either mindset. [CMG]