Gig Seeker Pro


Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band EDM Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"'Boopanschwing' CD Review/Interview/Live Preview"

Orange County rarely gets a chance to hear music like Bookmobile’s. This has perplexed me since I moved here in March. Why no love for non-mainstream, non-mega-club electronic music? Besides what I’ve heard on KUCI’s Digital::Nimbus show, this music that some call IDM or abstract electronica (double yuk, but they’ll have to do for now) is so far underground that most folks don’t even know it exists. Consider this my small contribution to boosting a musical style that deserves more attention.
Bookmobile—Ben Torrence and Victor Couto—began collaborating musically in Seattle in 2001, first with improv jazz rock unit Recidivist, and then with desktop-computer trio Lamplighter, both of which also featured Choncey Langford, who will be playing with Interfac3 on the Bookmobile bill Aug. 14. After Langford moved to LA in 2003, Torrence and Couto formed Bookmobile and issued Keys the next year on Ben’s Woodson Lateral label. Their debut disc’s 10 tracks cover much unobvious ground with nuanced craftiness. From the pressurized, size-19-moon-boot funk of “Filthy Lover” to the blissful, pinging microsound ode of “Fettle,” Bookmobile smartly span an impressive range of approaches. It’s rare to find American producers whose music recalls ominously tranquil post-rock pioneers Bark Psychosis (“Needrums”), Matmos’ trompe l’oreille folktronica excursions (“Wilcaught”) and laptop/guitar-tone pointillist Fennesz (“Inyrwindow”) on one release. Bookmobile revel in digital dislocation and shape-shifting minimalism.
The new Boopanschwing (Woodson Lateral) finds the duo engaging in a sonic tag-team match with Seattle laptop jockey Zapan, who favors the sort of playful downtempo funk for which Ninja Tune Records is known. Bookmobile’s five tracks here are their most dance-oriented to date, yet they sacrifice none of their meticulous, innovative sound-design techniques. The fact that Couto moved to Washington, D.C., in 2005—necessitating long-distance creative pow-wows—makes Bookmobile’s new music even more impressive.
“Bookmobile’s creative process had already been all over the map,” Couto observes. “Each track we start tends to spawn its own process. So, we have been able to adapt just fine to the ftp:band thing.”
“We had worked on tracks this way in the past, when we both lived in Seattle—passing a track back and forth, taking turns adding things and refining the song,” adds Torrence. “The main difference now is that there is less room for spontaneity, since we can’t improvise and compose with both of our laptops in unison.”
With Boopanschwing, Bookmobile are moving in a more danceable direction. What’s the impetus behind this? Are they leaving behind their chin-stroking days for good?
“We have always liked a nice chin stroke in conjunction with a dab of booty shake,” Couto says. “Essentially, that has been the way we roll with Bookmobile, though Ben’s solo work with Splinters and my experimentations tend to lean less toward the obviously danceable. The danceable result of Boopanschwing is mostly due to the democratic approach we took to collaborating with Zapan. As we put the album together, it became obvious fun grooves are what we had most in common.”
“Looking back on Boopanschwing a few years from now,” Torrence says, “I think it might seem like a bit of an anomaly for us, but we did want to show that we have a fun, playful side and can step away from being overly analytical or moody. We try not to limit ourselves stylistically, but we aren’t intentionally trying to rebel against our own tendencies, either—we just play around with sound in whatever way we’re feeling it on a given day, with whatever tools we have in front of us, and see what sticks.”
At Saturday’s Bookmobile show, Couto notes, you can expect “playful grooves, melodic tunes, minimal drones and beeps.” Man, does Orange County need that.

- OC Weekly

"Keys Review"

Bookmobile is Ben Torrence and Victor Couto, refugees from the defunct Seattle trio Lamplighter. Their former band's brilliant 2003 CD A Three Point Perspective revivified the nebulous zone where eclectic IDM meets post-rock. Keys, Bookmobile's debut disc, makes Lamplighter's death easier to take. Its 10 tracks creep down many seldom-trod roads with subtle inventiveness. From the tightly compressed, sinisterly machinelike funk of "Filthy Lover" to the tender, chiming microsound meditation of "Fettle," Bookmobile intelligently spans an impressive range of modes. It's rare to find American artists evoking blissed-out post-rock avatars Bark Psychosis ("Needrum"), Matmos' disorienting 21st-century folktronica japery ("Wilcaught"), and laptop/guitar drone-meister Fennesz ("Inyrwindow") all on one disc. Bookmobile's microchips squeak in tongues as the duo revel in digital dislocation and shape-shifting microsound. Let's hope these guys last longer than Lamplighter did.
-Dave Segal - The Stranger, Seattle

"Keys Review"

Bookmobile's strengths are the same as those of many decent electronic acts: solid beats, a broad range of tones and samples and a welcome warmth. …blending disparate sounds into a palatable whole...
Good skills and a good resume: these guys are pros.
What makes Keys stand out is the breadth of its stylistic mission -- ambient wallpaper shares disc space with dance music and demanding, highbrow tracks alike. Club-footed beats mingle with stiletto-heeled clicks ("Circuits and Clay"), and Coney Island dog-walkers roam creaky boardwalks in search of fortune and booty ("Track-and-Field"). "Filthy Lover" sounds like a digital giant stomping on digital detritus, kicking up bits and wreckage with each reverberating step. "Inyrwindow" could back a noir cable series sometime in your near future, and "HighLowHeart" coaxes some tenderness from otherwise indifferent electrons.
… Bookmobile refuses to take sides, pursuing whatever sounds and structures are satisfying, while still refusing to cater to a lowest common denominator audience.
But if Keys is not a Grand Musical Statement and it's not a series of craven "hits", what can it be? Can there be such a beast and can it be successful? Music that's smart and light-hearted is a tough sell. It can remind us of everything that's wrong with intellectual conversations at parties: the context is all wrong, and what we end up remembering is the guy who got his pants stuck in the microwave.
But if it's a tough sell, it's even tougher to achieve, and Keys succeeds because it behaves like a series of short stories -- each well-constructed and finished, each with its own perspective, each reliably gratifying. Anyone who consumes music for simple pleasure as well as intellectual refinement and/or Dionysian gymnastics will find much to enjoy here.
- Evanston Wade
- Splendid

"Show Listing, Seattle 2005"

Bookmobile, Hakea
Two of Seattle's preeminent electronic duos duel tonight in the Jewelbox's cozy confines. Bookmobile (Ben Torrence and Victor Couto) and Hakea (Matts Carthum and Turpin) are doing the thankless work of rejuvenating IDM (Intelligent Digital Music) from its decrepit state. They understand IDM is so nebulous a genre, it can encompass vast musical territory. This they do with casual brilliance. Bookmobile lean more toward minimalism, funk, and atomized guitarscapes while Hakea bust more old-school, synth-wizard moves, but it all sounds as fresh as a G5. - The Stranger

"Keys Review"

Individuals that manage to expand beyond their comfort zone, longingly gazing just over the matted metal fence in their backyard, and finally have the courage to unlatch the gate and step away into another world have my endless respect… primarily because I'm a coward. Why leave your bread and butter when you might not like the taste of peanut butter and jelly?

Keys is a difficult disc to describe, primarily because it falls into the realm of ambient/intelligent dance music (IDM) - genres that often supplement the lack of an explanation as explanation, sort of like the dreaded "alternative" tag. Using layering, washes, glitch, clicks and noise, Bookmobile creates a landscape of ambience that dances between sparse and pleasant arrangements to choppy noise works, often mingling the two ideas.
On "Circuits and Clay," a heavy bass line gives way to clicks and scratches, as distant keyboard dissonance prefaces actual structure. "Track and Field," the very next track, compiles a variety of noises seemingly looped arbitrarily. On "01" and "Wilcaught," Bookmobile display an uppity side, with two tracks where urgency seems to play a role, where the track in-between, "Inyrwindow," creates a soundscape of tunneling noise, continually rising.
Keys, as a whole, could be the soundtrack to a computer's life, the tracks mirroring the moods of the CPU's beginning and end, as it makes its way through the haze and expanse to computer utopia. It's a decidedly synthetic journey, but gentle at times, and not altogether without merit.
- David Spain - Lost At Sea

"Keys Review"

Bookmobile's first record "Keys" is a little on the simple side, sparse might be another good term for it. But everything it reaches for, it grabs easily. It is too sparse to be dance music but too beat-driven for sound collage. It is of two minds, and two heads end up being more interesting than one. From listening to this debut record, Bookmobile seems like two smart gentlemen, sitting down at their laptops, and creating thin layers of icy instrumentals, almost working like a tag team at times. Nothing is done too often or layered on too thickly, which is nice and shows their sense of control and taste towards this growing genre.
It would be easy to dismiss this record, if the styles didn't change effortlessly from song to song. Beginning with an almost Squarepusher/Oval glitch-up on the opening track, it quickly to a more confident techno-beat, but with the added noise sparks going on. Like a biomechanical beast, it just keeps growing and changing its form, little by little. By the fourth track, "Needrums", Bookmobile adds deep, lush tones to its palette, sounding a little like Fourtet (only a little, mind you. These guys are good, but not that good). "Inyrwindow" also comes close enough to ethereal bliss to make me really like this record, blips and pops and all.
In the end, this record sounds more cohesive than I have given it credit for. It isn't just a bunch of songs that sound remotely like someone else. It is a wide expanse of talents that are linked together and brought to the music by this pair of promising electronic artists.
They must be proud parents.
-Grant Capes -

"Keys Review"

Bleep, bleep, blurp and bleep. That is the sound of the electronic noodling that characterizes this generally irritating CD. Occasionally, the duo will do something really smooth and melodic, like the languid keyboard lines of "Circuits and Clay" only to force in the video game detritus like some station bleeding in that cannot be tuned out.
-Author Unknown - Ink 19

"Show Listing, Seattle 2004"

Son Of Rose, Bookmobile
Two of my favorite local microsound/IDM artists enliven No Tomorrow's vaunted weekly dissemination of dark, distorted sonic viruses. Son of Rose uses the PowerBook to paint meticulous, pointillist tableaux of glitch and drone. Crafty duo Bookmobile ramble all over the electronic map, hitting many choice landmarks with unerring finesse. These producers are future Mutek material, straight up.
-Dave Segal - The Stranger

"Show Review, PDX 2005"

…Next up for the evening was the laptop duo Bookmobile from Seattle. Their atmosphere was thick but beautiful and never very heavy. Maybe something more like raindrops than ocean waves. The night was getting later and the crowd had thinned since General Studies stopped, but my eyelids never grew heavy and I didn't stir from my seat, intently positioned in front of the Powerbooks. Not like there was anything to see, you understand. Bookmobile's faces were lit from their screens and were absorbed in the creation at hand, but unlike guitar or drums, laptop musicians reveal nothing to me in body movements or finger positioning. And still, I never got bored. The beats were an amalgamation of acoustic samples and percussive popcorn-like explosions. At moments I could almost hear bacon sizzling or Alka-Seltzer dissolving. Maybe I was just hungry, but I recommend them regardless.
-Nathan McKee
- Daily Vanguard


Keys CD [2004 Woodson Lateral]
charted well with college radio in North America, both in RPM and general top 30 lists

Boopanschwing CD [2007 Woodson Lateral]
Split between Bookmobile and Zapan

V/A - Cumulous CD [2006 Memex/ClickPop]

V/A - Children's Music For Adults CD [2005 Daft Alliance]

V/A - Feel My China II [2008 Daly City]
digital-only edition- Bookmobile remix Mochipet



Bookmobile is a pair of kindred musicians that met in Seattle under the pretense of an free-improv post-rock trio, which soon morphed into an instrumental EDM/glitch/dub/d'n'b/hip-hop electronica trio, Lamplighter, by late 2001.

In 2003, Ben and Victor continued on as a duo under their new guise, Bookmobile, while the third Lamplighter, Choncey Langford, moved to LA and began playing solo. Bookmobile currently operate out of Chicago & Seattle.

Bookmobile play with sound in any and every way that they find compelling, drawing on influences from more traditional rock, jazz, pop, and classical forms to the avant, experimental, and improvisational, not to mention punk, post- rock and many strains of electronic music- minimal techno, illbient, ambient, microsound, IDM, electroacoustic, drone, sound design, hip hop, etc...

From these diverse influences, and bearing no stylistic mission statement, Bookmobile has evolved into something that blends the contemplative, the playful and the peculiar. Big drum beats and chimey melodies share space with unfamiliar sounds that gurgle and chirp, rise and fall within the song structure. Undulating rhythms rise out of a chorus of clicks, snaps and delicate bleeps, to be overtaken by lush waves of fuzz. Polyrhythmic throbs give way to the pulse of a 4/4 kick drum which soon acts as the glue holding a smattering of sizzles and tears together in a way that makes your body want to wiggle.