Jazztronica numero uno

It’s received, and recognised, wisdom that the advice of friends is the best way to broaden one’s musical horizons. I am sure this is the case. But it is not always perfect – many a time people have tried to sell bands to me by virtue of the fact that they sound like Bloc Party, and I don’t dislike Bloc Party right, and anyway these are better right and they’re great. Yes, well, I appreciate your efforts, but that’s not the way of promoting an act to me.
There’s also the problem of when a friend with otherwise excellent taste tries to convince you to like a band which, upon listening, is deemed unsuitable for further listening. Unlistenable, if you will. Such a band is Coheed & Cambria.

And yet when same friend recommends music more of the electronic ilk, I’m inclined to acquiesce and have a listen. For much has been the delight in the past of discovering wonders like Adem, and therefore I’m much more likely to pay attention.

This is all a subtly veiled hint.

Anyway, the latest recommendation is The Books, and this one really does stand up. At this moment of time, if you can merge a healthy sense of experimentation with some crafty sounds and yet manage to retain an organic feel then, then you’ll be a man, my son. Cf. Adem surely, also Four Tet, also Caribou: The Books are the latest on the list. There’s extended vocal cut-outs, there’s ambient and lengthy glockenspiel passages, yet not for The Books the inexorable draw to hip hop that puts me off DJ Shadow, or even The Avalanches. There’s nothing really wrong with these bands, but it all feels like something I’ve heard before.

Witness the funky acoustica of All Bad Ends All, from Thought For Food: a percussive yet melodic and jazzy guitar-led track, one that builds and rises just as quickly as it stops and drops, with well-placed vocals, nothing extraneous or unnecessary.

Or how about the thwumpy, string-bassed Smells Like Content, from the band’s latest platter Lost And Safe. Marvel at it’s smoothly phasing and pleasingly subtle beat; it’s weaving and freewheeling, yet tightly managed lead vocal. The Books have far more of a foot in jazz than a lot of their contemporaries, or so it would seem, and therefore fluid basslines or funky rhythm chops don’t seem even slightly out of place. And while it’s all more reined in than jazz traditionally is, there’s still a sense of wilful playfulness and a wistfulness tempered with occasional abandon. It’s a really enjoyable sound, one easy to appreciate.

The Books – Smells Like Content
The Books – All Bad Ends All
Prefuse73 Reads the Books - Pagina Ocho

Buy The Books from Amazon

Tags: The Books; Coheed & Cambria; Adem; jazz; electronica; Tomlab; Prefuse73

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i thought about not dignifying this with a response, but i've never been one for dignity. i find this irrational dislike of xCoheedx unpalatable, but you have kindly linked to them and complimented me on my (almost) impeccable taste. so, actually, overall, i think i'm happy.