Working late on a renovation project a while back, my husband and I caught Jonathan Goldstein’s CBC radio program Wiretap. Goldstein is a quirky storyteller whose self-deprecating wit is alternately tender and shocking. One thread in that particular program had him preparing to introduce The Books for a local show—a responsibility he subsequently skipped, setting off a series of unlikely events in his already strange life.
Goldstein’s off-handed inclusion of The Books in his winding tale, told through a series of phone calls, somehow embodies for me the band’s tendency to dwell quietly in the cracks and crevices of seemingly trivial culture. Just as Goldstein was able to take a mundane event and weave it into a memorable tale of obligation and failure with a surprise ending, The Books mine the exceedingly ordinary for scraps of minutia, reconstructing them into signature audio-visual collages that are funny, sad, delightful, strange—sometimes all at once.
Archaeologists of sounds and images, Paul De Jong and Nick Zammuto have been collaborating as The Books since 2000. Watching their performance, which features live cello, guitar and vocals augmented by sampling and looping, one can easily imagine childhoods spent messing with anagrams, inventing rockets and building elaborate forts in the woods. Indeed, a childlike sense of wonder-full surrender might just be the best way to approach their show on September 18. Be ready to go where they take you and trust that the seemingly endless repetition of an image juxtaposed with a quote from Euripides’ Medea is no accident: "All is sacred, all is sacred, all is sacred, nothing in nature is natural my boy, you must keep this well in mind."
- Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma