Retired Numbers

Books On Tape

Sorry Juniper! Records, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


I'm aware that there are several bands out there calling themselves Books On Tape. The Books On Tape we're talking about here is the one-man electronic act and self-proclaimed beatpunk musician Todd Drootin. Through massive amounts of DIY networking, CDRs, and incessant touring, Books On Tape became a cult favorite in the early 2000's due to his bizarre rhythms, unusual way of recreating standard instruments, and general inability to write anything considered normal in the area of song structure. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In 2006, seemingly at the height of his modest fame, Drootin called it quits. Though a few reunion shows took place, a handful of leftover songs were never recorded, and Drootin entered the workplace and family life, essentially closing the Books On Tape chapter. In 2011 tragedy struck in the form of a broken collarbone. With an excess of free time on his hands, Drootin recorded one of his previously lost songs, “Super Dr.” Six months later, he would come across a DVD tucked away in his garage of archived Books On Tape songs, including five finished tracks that were never heard before. These five shelved songs and his recording of “Super Dr.” comprise of this new EP, Retired Numbers.

Entirely instrumental, Drootin's songs are very complicated, very busy, and full of erratic beats and constantly shuffling rhythms. “Super Dr.” is different in that it uses samples of female voices disguised as an instrument, not to mention a literal barrage of other noises. “Have You Seen This Man” unfolds like a chase scene in a sci-fi James Bond movie, the song twisting and turning with the scene, nearly derailing into a pit of noisy, schizophrenic dance rock. “Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls” makes you feel like you're living in a video game, an all-out wild listen of high and lows, intricate to calm. 

Whereas many artists will release these sorts of posthumous discs as a way to cash in one last time or, worse yet, shower us with mediocrity that never needed to be formally documented, these six tracks are among the best Books On Tape ever conceived. Though this highly bizarre clash of punk, hip-hop, endless samples, and tempo changes that don't make sense won't be for everyone, those in tune with Drootin's prior work or who can appreciate truly unique, unclassifiable music electronic music would be wise to seek this out.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sorry Juniper! Records, and is used for informational purposes only.