Review : Zammuto - Zammuto
PitchforkIn 1999, guitarist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong combined their talents and old-media sound archives as the Books. Both were AV geeks with honorary degrees in mad science, and together, they became experimental paleontologists of the audio fossil record. They took what John Oswald and Negativland had wrought and rendered it approachably musical, not to mention legal. The method was collage, the medium was other people's recordings, and the mode was high-concept farce, but the Books gently broke tradition with the fair-use activism and aggressive copyright infringement of their precursors. Instead, they were content to play slapstick games with time and space in the public domain, using acoustic instrumentation to give their mannered plunderphonics a wide and effortless appeal.
When the Books broke up earlier this year, it felt right. It's not that they had gotten bad: Their last record, 2010's The Way Out, recalled the glory days of Thought for Food and The Lemon of Pink after the unfocused Lost and Safe. It's more like the world simply caught up with them. Cheap, accessible software eradicated sound collage's barrier of entry. Mashups and remixes became commonplace marketing tools, and then Christian Marclay blew up the whole game with The Clock. Most of all, the internet made illogical connections between disparate things feel like a matter of course. By 2012, what the Books did was still pretty amazing, but it was no longer strange. That's why Nick Zammuto's self-titled debut, which jettisons the stale conceptual parts of the Books while retaining the durable technical parts, is such a breath of fresh air....full text
PopstacheZammuto is the solo project of Nick Zammuto, perhaps best known as one half of folktronica duo The Books. The Books quietly disbanded earlier this year, but they were known for their groundbreaking use of sampling, which they layered with simple, acoustic folk elements to make surprisingly tender compositions. Now on his own, Zammuto still remains caught in that juxtaposition between harsh, synthetic noise and lighter instrumentation. In fact, the major difference between Zammuto’s self-titled debut and his work with The Books is that Zammuto is a little less sample-heavy and perhaps a little less dense, for better or for worse.
Again, the core sound here will be very familiar to those who’ve heard his prior work. Instrumentation is kept mostly simple and very folksy: a few stray plucks on an acoustic guitar, maybe some light strings. That’s kept constant and the generally pleasant mood and groove that Zammuto established during his tenure with The Books is the same, but everything else is tweaked slightly for this solo effort.
There are a few stray samples throughout the album, but they don’t drive the songs the way that they did with his previous work. Instead, the songs are actually rather vocal-driven, and unlike the clean, folksy vocals you might be expecting, these vocals are very heavily filtered and almost robotic. This sounds like a recipe for disaster (especially since Zammuto has clearly proven that he has the chops to really sing), but here, mixed with the samples and lingering strings, it actually sounds pretty natural after you give it some time to settle.
It’s difficult to really say whether this album benefits from its less-dense sound or not. On one hand, it’s a very accessible album; once listeners get over the robotically tweaked vocals, they’ll have a very easy time listening through the album and absorbing its sound. On the other hand, it might rob Zammuto’s compelling and interesting style of its longevity: denser songs might be difficult to crack into and immediately enjoy, but repeat listens of Zammuto’s earlier work always got progressively more and more enjoyable as listener’s learned to peel back the many layers and discover the core of the song....full text
ImposemagazineIf there is any group of people in the world who desire to be different, unique, or even strange, it would be safe to suggest to point your finger towards musicians. They always strive to generate something new, which leads them into two states; being rejected and booed off the stage, or being presented with a vast amount of acclaim. Usually being exclusively dissimilar doesn’t gain popularity over night, but for the likes of Nick Zammuto, he could be seeing success a lot quicker than others.
Having just left his twelve-year, New York duo, The Books, Zammuto regurgitates the set of musical skills that he has garnered from his folktronica collective experience. Opening with a jumpy fusion of phased vocal tremolos and a single-note organ, “Yay”, despite the obvious title, is rather suggestive of his transition from working in a duo to now accomplishing a solo career. This fashion diffuses into the next piece, “Groan Man, Don’t Cry”; lead by a subtly auto-tuned reverb and a freshly amplified electric guitar. Almost unnoticeably, a square-tremolo synth-pad mingles with the foreground guitar, furthermore becoming adjoined to Zammuto’s strenuous organ....full text
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