Now onto the music...
This pensive performance created an atmosphere which seemed to be a state somewhere between a meditation, a compelling documentary, and a lighthearted but truthful comic act. They use samples from various sources, including talk boxes, old obscure videos, acupuncture tapes, and geese, mixed with their own instruments (cello, five-string base, guitar, violin, keyboard, and vocals) to sculpt an auditory landscape that is dynamic, contemplative, and often quite captivating. Each song usually is formed around some sort of found content or a theme which all of the layers are then built off of.
Another large component to the overall experience of their music, especially as it is performed live, is visual. A portion of their samples come from some sort of video footage, so it is intuitive for them to then created a video expression for each song. They have been creating these videos pretty much since they have been creating their music. Seeing it all live, unable to escape this visual part of the experience, lets the viewers get the experience in its entirety.
The band itself is made up of Nick Zammuto (guitar, bass, and vocals) and Paul de Jong (cello) and more recently has acquired a new member, Gene Back (violin, guitar, keyboard). The form of the music that The Books create is atypical and unlike much else. It correlates to collage work in the visual arts world it the way that it cuts things out of their context and places them together to create a new revelation. They use the composition process of music to link together various different clips from an assortment of sources, often that would not otherwise be connected.
In the song that I am looking more into today, Take Time, there are clips from Medea by Pasolini, an Italian film maker; an audiobook of Ecclesiastes read by an Israeli diplomat; and others of more obscurity. The repetition of the artists singing "take time" with the inclusion of relating phrases from multiple cultures and time emphasizes a sense of this concept of patience and intention being one of universal truth.
The song begins with the phrase in Italian:
"Tutto è santo. Tutto è santo. Tutto è santo. Non c'è niente di naturale nella natura ragazzo mio. Tienilo bene in mente."Translated to:
"All is sacred, all is sacred, all is sacred. There is nothing natural in Nature, my lad, remember that!"This is a beautiful thought that we often do not meditate on. What makes certain parts of our world worth more than others. Why is the leaf of a tree considered a sacred part of nature while the small piece of metal in your computer is not? Both serve a significant purpose for a greater system and serve their time while eventually coming to an end. There is nothing that can ever exist that will not have implications or impact on something else in the world. Often in our culture we rush through our routines and days without noticing the details that compose to make a whole.
The Books are giving us this song as a meditation on time and contemplation. Maybe all of these small parts of life are in all actuality the most significant or gratifying and by overlooking them, we are missing out of the greatest part of existence.