Books on Tape
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Books on Tape

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Books on Tape Sings the Blues"

Todd Matthew Drootin makes happy fun-time techno, the kind of playful, whimsical music that would work best soundtracking Japanese anime or chase sequences involving Tonka trucks. He's a compulsive tinkerer; with their squishy sound effects, caffeinated tracks like "See You in Tokyo" and "She's Dead to Me" have the feel of push-button improv, as if Drootin is checking the full capabilities of his circuitry while he's recording. Unlike so much electro-funk, "Blues" offers a lot of interesting terrain to explore.

--MW - Entertainment Weekly


"Books on Tape Sings the Blues"

Books on Tape, a.k.a. 'puter noodler Todd Drootin, are an acquired taste. Unquestionably interesting and indisputably arcane, Books' synthetic-music experimentalism is a nuthouse art gallery for your brain. Fixate on a track title and let the scene gel in your mind's eye: "She's Dead to Me" (manic and disturbing), "Death in the Sex Shop" (stranglehold manic), "Church Bus" (ominous industrial), "See You in Tokyo" (curiously Teutonic-styled menace intermingled with Talking Heads frivolity), "Circus Animal Battle Rap" (edgy and onomatopoeic). The best moments are definitely the darker ones. When things get too vanilla (e.g. the Pollyanna minimalism of "Pointe Du Pied") the engagement quotient declines noticeably. But all that's forgiven and forgotten when you hit cuts like the sax-n-drugs "The Crucial." A tumbling bundle of samples, loops and general electro doodling, Sings the Blues plays hopscotch across your synapses and gets you thinking about things you've never done and probably shouldn't.

--Adrian Zupp - Rolling Stone


"Books on Tape Sings the Blues"

Infinitely more lethal than a man and his book is a man and his sampler. Which is good reason to cower when Todd "Books on Tape" Drootin steps behind his stack of cockamamie beat boxes and assorted instrumentalia. On Sings the Blues, he doesn't, but rather mixes together another stiff cocktail of menacing, undulating rhythms beneath a peppery artifice of keyboard ditties and squeaky laser blasts. That's right, no singing here: even derived voices are used sparingly. With this in mind, one wonders why Drootin gives thanks to The Pixies, Neil Young and Wire in the liner notes. That answer may be located somewhere within the unintimidating song lengths and Drootin's infatuation with serrated, fuzzy chunks of electronic rhythms - a virtual cousin to the distorted guitar. But for all of BoT's transcendence, there's some transparence, too, enough to make you wonder how deep Drootin's bag of tricks really is.

-- Kurt Orzeck
- Filter


"Books on Tape Sings the Blues"

Loyal readers of the Alternative Press will recognize Books on Tape as one of the season's musicians to watch, and "Sings the Blues" seconds the suggestion that this is one of the most criminally under-appreciated acts in Los Angeles. It always sounds stupidly elitist to say so, but Books on Tape - who is Todd Drootin, alone - may just be too clever and too difficult for popular acceptance. One immediately thinks of the limitations of a one-man-band with no vocals, although the adaptability of the sampler is Drootin's platform. Recorded sound is only going to take a musician so far without the knowledge and imagination to sculpt the sound, and Books on Tape creates a tactile musical collage in every track on this, Dootin's second LP. Kind of like a versatile mix of Prefuse 73 and Aphex Twin, Books on Tape explores everything from electro to samba to jungle to punk rock to avant funk. The music on this album just doesn't sit still, as every sustained groove is punctuated by near-complete unpredictability in the form of synthesized sound breaks, noise, static, and complex, creative percussion arrangements. Listen to this hour-plus album build in intensity as it plays, rarely failing to surprise and to enchant. Top notch.

-- Cory O'Malley
- LA Alternative Press


"Books on Tape Sings the Blues"

So, what comes after postmodern? Sings the Blues is likely the answer. This glitchy mash-up takes found and familiar sounds - everything from radio static to skipping CDs to old-skool sequencers to sampled voices to squiggly Moogs - and pours them all into a blender with the lid off. Turn it up, and it'll really mess up your apartment - in a good way. Because Books on Tape (actually, "they" are just a guy named Todd Drootin) never forget to add dirty-ass beats and turntable treats. The most thrilling thing about Sings the Blues is that you never quite know what's coming next; each track is a complete aural surprise (break out your headphones to catch them all) and ventures out into a space where no DJ has gone before. Hey, not only does this one have the blues, it also has just about every other color, and mood, in the spectrum.

-Eliot Wilder - Amplifier Magazine


"Feature--LA Alternative Press"


Valley native Todd Drootin (a.k.a. Books on Tape) suffers from a severe case of electronic epilepsy. Standing behind his series of odd sequencers and mysterious boxes bursting with knobs, levers, and who-knows-what, the man seems to compose in a fit of spontaneity.

However, the brilliant premeditation is evident in how friggin' good his stuff is. Using samples as minimal as a single guitar chord or bass line as his palate, Drootin mixes in blips, buzzes and other kinds of primitive electronic noises to create music that is somewhat punk, somewhat dancey and often cinematic in scope.

The project began when Drootin wanted to play music but lacked the space necessary to store his various bulky traditional instruments. Sequencers, about the size of shoeboxes (but a lot more fun), seemed like the way to go. What has grown out of this space-issue is a full-fledged act that is less "electroclash," and more a direct result of influences such as jazz, punk, indie, and just plain rock.

Books on Tape shows have been described as "high-energy gymnastics" and even the most die-hard electronic traditionalists and jaded indie-rockers have been known to break a smile watching the frantic, knob-turning, pedal-slamming spectacle that is a Books on Tape show. Drootin has had the opportunity to play with such established acts as Cursive, Rilo Kiley and Stars as Eyes.

The debut Books on Tape album received high critical acclaim and became a staple on college radio stations nationwide. Drootin feels that his recently released second album, "Sings the Blues," captures the vibe of his live performances. He has been invited to play at this year's CMJ festival in New York City and can be expected to surpass the Los Angeles underground soon enough.

--Lesley Bargar - LA Alternative Press


Discography

The Business End (gdp014, October 2004)
Books on Tape Sings the Blues (gdp009, September 2003)
Hey Typical 10" (notype78, May 2003)
Throw Down Your Laptops (dba009, December 2002)

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Bio

Abusive fastball rhythms. Gratuitous electroid synth lines. Z-movie backdrops. Tape hiss. Chopped vocal samples. Soundtracks to the high-scores table. One-finger sampler tapping. Lush downtempo breaks. Power pop plunges. You name it, Books on Tape delivers.

Books on Tape is Todd Drootin, mastermind computer-free beat technician from Los Angeles. BoT has been playing shows in LA and out across the country for several years now, including recently to a packed hall at 2003's CMJ festival. Drootin hand crafts his songs through a set of samplers, synths, guitar pedals, unidentifiable knobby things and insane troll logic, steadfastly refusing to buy a laptop.

Books on Tape has recently been playing shows and touring with the likes of Consafos (Greyday Records), Cursive, The Good Life, The Faint, and Broken Spindles (Saddle Creek), and Restiform Bodies (Anticon).