the Books

A blog by Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong of the band 'the Books'

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Jun 23

A Cold Freezin’ Night

Hey All,

Fader just “leaked” a track from our new record called ‘A Cold Freezin’ Night’.  Here’s the link:

http://www.thefader.com/2010/06/21/premiere-the-books-a-cold-freezin-night-mp3/

This track was one of the first tracks we made for ‘the Way Out’ and we knew when we started it that it was going to push things in a very new direction for us.

A little back story:

The movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was released in 1992, and you might recall that Macaulay Culkin used a tape recorder in that movie (to disguise his voice I believe).  Kids wrote letters en masse requesting that a retail version of the tape recorder be made, and sure enough in 1993 Tiger Electronics released a version of it called the Talkboy.  Many many were sold, you may have had one!  You can still get them on eBay in fact:

The salient thing about the Talkboy is its speed control.  You can adjust the speed of the tape during playback and recording to get very strange vocal effects.  The opening sample in ‘A Cold Freezin’ Night’ is a perfect example…listen very carefully… you will unmistakably hear a line from a well known kids’ song, distorted to the edge of recognizability, but I promise you it’s there!

You know, since we’ve started touring we’ve been raiding thrift shops looking for good audio and video tapes.  We have many thousands of them:

Among these tapes were at least a half a dozen talkboy tapes.  And, as you may know first hand, when a kid gets his first tape recorder all inhibitions disappear.  These tapes are full of outrageous moments that no fully conscious adult could ever duplicate.

The primary tape that you hear in ‘a cold freezin’ night’ is a game of one-upsmanship between a brother and a sister (I think).  Their conversation escalates until the younger sister has no choice but to drop the A-bomb.  It’s very musical how it unfolds, so it was not a stretch to turn it into a pseudo-techno-dance mix.

The rest of the sounds in the mix range from bass guitar that I recorded with my brother Mikey, a collection of amazing vintage synth samples that Paul collected from various sources, fragments of outdated radio jingles (including the best harmonica solo ever) and an electro-acoustic polyrythm generator that I invented.  I’ll describe it, along with some of my other inventions later. 

Hope you like the track!  We’ll release the video soon, which consists mostly of samples taken from the dozens of summer camp videos in our collection.

Best to you, and to the Joffrey Ballet (I think) who turned our recent show in Millennium Park into a giant Plié lesson.

love,

Nick


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