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Throw Down Your Laptops

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Album Review

As whatever was IDM continues to mutate and become more mainstream than most would have suspected in the early '90s, the more albums like this will be created. And good thing too — with his one-man-plus-guests project, Books on Tape (aka Todd Drootin) has an hour's worth of technology used and abused to share with the world. Unlike, say, the explicitly post-everything mainstream-loving drive of the Tiger Beat universe, Throw Down Your Laptops is very much a product of the Deathbomb Arc label. Drootin's interest is as much in quirky old keyboard squelches and sudden guitar bits as it is in chaotic chop-up, and the warmth of the recording is much more Magnetic Fields than Aphex Twin. What's especially nice is the lovely timelessness of the album as a whole — a fair amount of the drum machines and synths may be old and the recording doesn't sound like state of the art chart-pop 2002, but nothing feels explicitly retro for its own sake. That makes the layers of giddy melodies and beats on "Smart on TV," and the neat blend of subharmonic bass crawl and brisker drum hits on "Terranaut," something that isn't 21st century music per se. Meanwhile, the sudden explosion of hyperspeed beats on "The Crawl," and millisecond chop-ups on "Wake Up Call," still make it clear what the general time frame is. Rose for Bodhan's Brian Miller adds vocals and other instruments on a number of songs; on "The Contenders," Miller's bandmate Grace Lee joins him for a full collaboration. It's a great number, part kiddie-singalong, part dreamy Cure mood-out, part burbling and crumbling rhythms, and all over in one and a half minutes. A fun extra touch is due to some great song titles like "Sporty But Sensible Car," "Offend Your Fan Base," and "Replica, California."


Formed: 1999 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Books on Tape is the long-running solo project of electronic musician Todd Drootin. Drootin began Books on Tape in Los Angeles in 1999 after the breakup of his more collaborative project Subverse. An early cousin of breakcore and more punk-informed takes on electronic music, Drootin dubbed his often caustic Books on Tape compositions "beatpunk" and amassed a huge selection of demos, early experiments, and other recordings for several years. Throw Down Your Laptops, his first widely available album,...
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Throw Down Your Laptops, Books on Tape
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