Monday, August 3, 2009

2003 : 1-2 Aught Music Roundtable: The Lemon of Pink by The Books

Roundtable Part One: "The Lemon of Pink"

Okay, so lots of bands use samples, snippets of movie dialogue, etc. in their music, but very few are able to do really interesting things with this material and surprise me during the act of listening. Songs with poorly used samples get old, fast. But in 2003, when The Books released The Lemon of Pink, they were firing on all four cylinders. This album combines conversational samples and repeated phrases with a strongly organic sound that includes acoustic instruments and simple melodies. The overall effect is that of finding faded photographs in the attic; the sense that you have stumbled upon an intensely personal history that transmits a message more about everyday life and less about historical relevance. When, at the end of the title track, a woman wearily sings "We went through hell... all is well," you believe her.

Nancy Pokrywka

Roundtable Part Two: "That Right Ain't Shit"

Jeremy gave me a copy of this album. I find the songs to be fascinating. I am usually a lyrics guy. I like to know what someone is singing about. I want to know what this song is trying to say to me.

"That Right Ain't Shit" makes it easy for me to forget that need. There is something about how the song is put together. At some points it is choppy and dissident. At other points it is flowing and moving. I like how those two styles play off each other in the same song. It really appealed to me in 2003. It seemed to be like how my life was going.

Rich Thomas

Roundtable Part Three: "PS"

Thinking about mixtapes again. Back in the days when my mixtapes were actually tapes, I took obsessive pleasure in making sure that the mix "fit" precisely in the alloted space. No cutting songs off in the middle. No long stretches of emptiness that the recipient would need to fast-forward through before reaching the end of the side. It had to be perfect: if there was more than say, a minute of blank space left over, then there was room to fit in another song. Over time I developed pretty good mental repetoire of short songs, but I had also collected a library of other interesting fragments that could serve the same purpose: snippets of movie dialogue, sound effects, snatches of poetry, little pieces of radio dada, whatever.

I made a couple of mixes on audio tape in 2002 (I still have my roadtrip mix from that year) but by 2003 I think I'd switched to making mixes on CD-Rs for good. Which is kind of a shame, because "PS" from The Lemon of Pink would have made a great mix-ender.

It lasts for fifty-six seconds and it's not a song. It may once have been a fairly tender conversation, but the guys in the Books edited it down and then edited it down again until only uncomfortable interstitial bits remain—false starts, baffled laughter. In its final form, it's a model of yearning. It's a pure balance of the initmate and the awkward. And if that doesn't describe every single mixtape I ever made, then my name's not...

Jeremy Bushnell

Listen: The Books >> "The Lemon of Pink" | "That Right Ain't Shit" | "PS"

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