Musique concrete–music made from recordings of everday sounds–alienated the cold-war-era European bourgeoisie, but when the premise was unwittingly revisited decades later by American sample junkies like Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad, it turned out that what didn’t quite work as art music worked great as pop. Composing with found sounds is old hat now, in the age of mass-market digital home recording, but the BOOKS’ prismatic chamber music reminds us what a radical, wondrous world of possibilities it still presents. The Lemon of Pink (2003) sounds like a string quartet armed with Laurie Anderson’s magnetic-tape violins, and more of them than Sonic Youth have guitars. Julienned viola fragments dart in and out of the mix without attempting to sound “organic,” the brief electric pops of their entrance like bubbles rising in champagne. The duo’s latest, Lost and Safe (Tomlab), expands their palette with more singing and guitars and fewer deliberately Ginsu’d cadences, but as before the samples percolate in the rhythm of conversation rather than the inflexible beats that usually organize other sample-based music like electronica or hip-hop.
DJ and producer DIPLO, half of Philly’s Hollertronix (with partner Low Budget), was propelled to minor fame in 2004 with Piracy Funds Terrorism, his underground collaboration with M.I.A. Year-end plaudits for the downloadable mix (accessible before her formal releases were available outside the UK) set the stage for M.I.A.’s Arular to dominate best-of lists this year. (The two are now coupled romantically as well.)
This event is part of Pitchfork 10.0, Pitchfork Media’s tenth anniversary celebration. Diplo headlines and the Books open. Fri 12/30, 8 PM, Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western, 773-296-6024, sold out. –J. Niimi