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Alternative & Indie - Released March 4, 2012 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

Audio alchemist and one half of the gorgeously fragmentary pop team the Books, Nick Zammuto makes his solo debut with this full-length under his last name. There's a roving chaos to the disc, not completely divorced from the springy shifts of his other band, but definitely a different animal. Album opener "Yay" suggests a logical progression from the lighthearted cutup mentality of the Books with overdriven drums and tremeloed vocals pushing the driving melodies along. Other voices wail out in the background as anthemic keyboards explode out of the choruses. The song is brilliant, capturing something midway between Sung Tongs-era Animal Collective and the Books' high-water-mark album The Lemon of Pink. After such a strong start, however, the album gets lost quickly. Unlike the sample-happy, often instrumental fragmentary pop the Books are known for, vocals take a front seat here, almost every song revolving around heavily processed singing. "Groan Man, Don't Cry" comes off like the worst of Bon Iver's cameos on Kanye tracks with its vocoded vocals seeming out of place riding on top of crystal-clear organ lines. There might be some worthwhile moments of cold funk somewhere in the arrangement, but they're obscured by the overbearing mechanical singing trying to emote over the top. The song threatens to start for six minutes and then fades away. "F U C-3PO" has a similar robotic menace to it. This song and a few others fall into the undesirable final product of modernized prog rock, futuristic synth stabs aggressively competing with acoustic guitars like a Battles tune left in the oven too long. "Zebra Butt" takes the vocoding one step further by replacing processed human vocals with a computerized female voice reciting lyrics in a programmedly sterile way. Even the relatively clean vocals on "Idiom Wind" are so central they kind of become the song, pushing bright string sounds and stereo-panned percussion into the background. The same gift for arrangement that Nick Zammuto put to incredible work on previous productions is still present here, if less overtly. The string bass and found-sound bicycle-bell melodies of "The Shape of Things to Come" dance with spare handclap rhythms. The production makes the song, and it's a rare example of tension building successfully on this record full of awkward statements and misfired studio choices. All of the chaos and bluster of Zammuto ultimately take away from the album as a whole instead of adding to its excitement. The ungrounded spontaneity of the Books has made for excitingly unhinged records, but what comes across on Zammuto isn't so much possibility or even affable clutter as it is weightiness. Under the burden of relentless vocodings and saturated synthetic sounds, the album becomes shiftless and even its myriad subtle details get lost in the relentless rush. ~ Fred Thomas
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2016 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 2, 2014 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

Though the project technically existed in the form of a few CD-R albums of glitchy, experimental ambience in the early 2000s, Zammuto made a proper debut in 2012 when Nick Zammuto, founding member of indie collage duo the Books, was processing the dissolution of that long-running and highly accomplished band. Part of that process was the recording of the tense, sometimes claustrophobic self-titled album from Zammuto, a dizzying affair that went against all of the trademarks the Books had established for themselves and replaced folky, organic samples with layers of processed vocals, cold synthetic sounds, and a generally relentless songwriting style that was anything but easy to digest. Burying a known style in clutter may have been an understandably reactionary move to intentionally set Zammuto apart from the Books, but the end result was more confusing than distinctive. Released in 2014, follow-up album Anchor sounds almost immediately like the work of a different entity altogether, or at very least the work of an artist in a very different place than before. Opening track "Good Graces" drifts in gracefully on a bed of ambient synths before truly beginning with a dusty electric piano riff, laid-back dubby grooves, and softly shimmering vocals from Daniela Gesundheit of indie act Snowblink. Compared to the album before this, the song is strikingly minimal and brimming over with cold confidence, where before there were only manic shifts from one extreme sound to the next. Much of Anchor follows this trend, with obtuse funk workouts like "Hegemony" consisting of little more than busy live drums, complex vocal harmonies, and the most skeletal of instrumental arrangements to keep the song glued together. Zammuto revisits some of the vocodered vocals and overcooked synth tones of the debut, but this time around there's more space around these sonic choices, allowing them to feel more natural and deliberate. The misguided rush of colors and nonstop sounds of the debut are replaced here with the subtlety of minimal techo-influenced beats on tracks like "Your Time" and the nearly ambient phases of "Don't Be a Tool." The changes in the band are marked ones, and work to create far more satisfying and introspective songs. Where the self-titled record felt like a vivid explosion of feelings, sounds, and ideas in line with the end of a summer full of motion and conflict, Anchor sounds grounded and wintery, a little older and making the space to look before it leaps. ~ Fred Thomas
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Film Soundtracks - Released November 9, 2018 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 22, 2018 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 29, 2018 | Temporary Residence Ltd.

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