Review Summary: A jubilant electronic album that delves into psychotic musical realms without ever becoming overdone or bloated.
In past works, Books have always been associated with a sound referred to as folktronica, using acoustic sounds and melodies and juxtaposing them with hazy vocal samples and oddball textures. And what folk influences they had probably reflected on their minimalist sound. Whatever; The Books have ditched all modesty for good on The Way Out
, aiming for sound-college grandiosity. No traditional instrumentation is sacred, every loop subjected to mathematical layering. It's an expansion of soundscapery explored on Lost and Safe
. The distinction is present, if not tangible, but the full disclosure is that The Way Out
's sound lies in its diverse palette of musical techniques and samples utilized. It aims for everything, and god damnit
, it achieves it. Sped-up rhythms and twisted vocal samples do create a joyous musical vibe, but the album paces in a diverse and cooling manner. Tense and dynamic tunes such as "I Didn't Know That" are contrasted by tracks such as "Thirty Coming" which swell and build not unlike a post-rock song.
In contrast to many sample-based records, The Way Out
is completely fulfilling as an album. It recalls different moods and textures, the second half in particular containing slow-brooding tracks featuring soothing vocals. With the exception of "Free Translator", these tracks tend to diverge from standard songwriting and instead produce a hypnotic sound that works as an alternate to the more upbeat tracks. While its ambition to cover a plethora of sounds could leave one expecting an incohesive piece of art, The Books have created a record made to digest as a whole, each track flowing into new territory. But I digress; The Way Out
is crazy fun, small atonal samples layered to produce a stunning musical effect. The vocal samples often define the feel of each track, adding humor, abstraction, and general atmosphere. The entire LP, while channeling the celebratory feel of plunderphonic music, creates something bigger musically, something that will perplex, ease, and engage listeners to the fullest. And that is something for experimental music fans to revel in.