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Thought for Food

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Tomlab
  • ASIN: B00006C2C2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,951 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryan Hennessy on December 24, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Rare. Innovative. Mind-expanding? Smart. Exciting. Meditative. If I had to choose a bunch of All Music Guide adjectives to sum up this album, those would be them. The Books' Thought For Food is a hard album to pin down as it's electronic, and yet feels more like folk than IDM. Maybe this is what Momus was talking about? Probably not, since he was talking about folk musicians starting out with synths and making their music with those instruments as a starting point. The Books are more complicated than a simple metaphor or equation can explain.
So I'll start by saying that The Books are two men: Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong. According to a dead-on review of the record by Mark Richardson, there are four main instruments on the album: Guitar, violin, samples, and silence. Sometimes a guitar and cello will make up a bed for the samples, sometimes vice-versa. Each song is its own unique world. But throughout the whole of it, what really makes the album stunning, is the samples. Each is allowed to breath. Nothing on the album feels muddled. If Negativland is the beer, The Books are the wine. This is sampladelic music refined.
On the first track, perhaps my favorite song of the year, "Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again," there is a constantly shifting beat, as samples each struggle to get to the front. There is a contemplative and dramatic guitar line that makes its way throughout, but the clicks, glicks and beats will start and stop at a moments notice while samples of tennis matches, army generals, and a woman I recognized as "Hazel" from the NPR show Lost and Found Sound each jostle for attention but are cut off before they can say anything. It's just an impossibly profound song that doesn't come out and directly say anything.
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Format: Audio CD
Innovative. That's a word I haven't heard very often referring to new releases this year. I always love albums that are difficult to explain to someone that's never heard it, especially if that person listens to as much stuff as you do, giving you a wide selection for points of reference to choose from, yet still coming up short in your attempt at an accurate description. Collectively known as the Books, the duo of Paul de Jong (from New York) and Nick Zammuto (from North Carolina) have produced an album that contains some pretty off-the-wall sound samples, disturbing dialogue, and even some old-fashioned singing (huh?). All this takes place over the top of some type of music, usually very simplistic in nature, such as an acoustic guitar and a violin. While odd voice samples are nothing new, you've never heard them employed in such a way as found here. This doesn't come off completely flawless, however. Thought For Food feels a little rough around the edges. On some tracks, everything comes together beautifully. In other tracks, they slightly miss their mark. When you've got something that sounds as fresh as this, why nitpick?
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By jasonnn on January 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It is only appropriate to start out this review with my first experience with The Books since everyone will probably remember theirs as well. After a long, or not so long [its irrelevant] day my two friends and I decided it was time for a little cool down. We went into my friend's room while she turned out all the lights and left only the TV muted on static to light the room. Then she turned on this album and we all lay there and listened. I had heard The Books before but this, for some reason, felt like the first time I was really hearing them in their avant-garde entirety. The semi-random sounds and snapshot vocal samples seared the air in a summation of life and music. `Twas grand, to say the least.

This album is really difficult to break down or sectionalize. As you listen to it, there are obvious changes of pace following the different songs, but somehow, the vein of the music always seems to remain in tact. From the first quasi-notes of "Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again" The Books seem to be reaching for a lifelike quality for their music that can really only be described by that same word: Life. This song has a straight beat that is surrounded by samples of people sort of talking through their problems. Mid-way through the song you hear an elderly lady discussing her problem with her heart conditions and some bad checks she was accused of writing. As this monologue goes on, you get drawn in until finally her voice seems to explode into nothingness and the song goes on. This type of forget-what-you-know attitude prevails with this band and particularly this album.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm not really sure why I love this CD so much. As far as I remember, I wasn't particularly amazed or blown away by it when I got it over a year ago, hence I let it collect dust in the back seat of my car with countless other forgotten disks within a week. A few days ago, however, I was lying awake late at night skimming through my iPod looking for something interesting, and happened once again upon The Books. I hit `play,' and never looked back.

What first greets your ear when you start this album is what can only be described as a swirling, brooding guitar pluck. The tune slowly but surely picks up urgency as the song progresses before it altogether disappears around the 3 minute mark amidst an all-out instrumental freak-out. Soon you realize that the guitar and other conventional instruments are just the beginning for this album. What The Books manage to create is a sprawling musical landscape of deep electronic beats and blips, string instruments, and some of the most unique samples you've ever heard.

The samples themselves are what really decorate the musical landscapes, dotting the rolling hills and sloping deserts with all sorts of colors and interesting objects. They range from what sounds like a grainy radio recording from WWII Great Britain to what may be a shopping cart rolling out of an elevator and crashing into a wall. Some samples are so monumental they cast their shadow across the entire song, as is the case with "Contempt," a song that slowly builds around a sample of two men talking. What makes the samples so great is that they not only sound like nothing else produced today, but they also simultaneously provoke feeling and nostalgia in a way samples almost never do; just listen to the little girl in "Motherless Bastard" and you'll know what I mean.
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