For more than a decade, guitarist/vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong created wonderfully indescribable cacophony as The Books, pursuing a wildly unique and experimental sonic collage direction that borrowed technique from Brian Eno and Negativland, avant-garde-ian attitude from Frank Zappa and snarky wise-assery from They Might Be Giants. After four albums, an EP and a DVD, The Books closed up shop in 2012 with the intent of focusing on other projects; Zammuto and de Jong had both bought houses for their freshly started families and installed personal studio spaces.
While de Jong has opted for guest appearances and solo improvisations with loops, samples and video, Zammuto chose to blend his Classic/Indie Rock roots and The Books ethic in an actual four-piece band aggregation christened with his surname. Just three months after announcing The Books’ cessation, the Zammuto quartet — which had been recording for the better part of a year — released their full-length eponymous debut to a largely positive reception. Just after starting sessions, Zammuto tested the waters with the 2011 Idiom Wind EP, which led Pitchfork to declare the Prog/Art Rock-tinged “F U C-3PO” as the year’s best new track.
After extensive touring with Gotye, Explosions in the Sky and Snowblink, Zammuto finally got down to the task of recording its sophomore set, which the group crowdfunded through an Indiegogo campaign. Anchor, released early last month, shows Zammuto continuing to stitch a more conventional Indie Rock perspective to the Folktronic vibe and off kilter charm of The Books. And if you’re looking for Freudian hints of Zammuto’s creative inner demons, there’s the video for “IO,” Anchor’s latest single, which shows the band constructing an enormous catapult and then launching various objects to an arcing destruction, including the computer that was used to assemble The Books’ last album, the hypnotherapy-themed The Way Out.
Anchor has been both praised and dinged for its conventionality but Nick Zammuto at his most pedestrian is considerably more interesting than a lot of paint-by-numbers Electronic pulse Pop. Anchor is the next illogically logical step in the evolution of Nick Zammuto, who is already a couple of rungs ahead of us on DNA’s spiraling ladder.
ZAMMUTO plays at Southgate House Revival Tuesday, Nov. 4. Find tickets/more info here .