I went to the U Village yesterday to get my iPhone fixed. I hate that place—an awful suburban strip mall plunked indelicately into one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the city. Hanging out there was super frustrating—I waited too long at the Apple Store just to find out my battery was dead. When I left, annoyed, I put on the new Books record, The Way Out, and walked back through UW to my bus stop.
The Books record reminds me of John Coltrane, particularly that Impressions/Love Supreme era, when he was playing the first set of shows at the Village Vanguard, before he stepped into the free-jazz abyss that consumed his last couple years. The phrasing on Coltrane's Love Supreme-era solos is just weird enough that it feels like music, but also out of context and peripheral—full of indiscernible purpose, like hearing people talk in a foreign language. Like ambient city noise condensed into a song.
The Books get this effect with bits of archived audio—motivational speakers, science lectures, answering machine tapes—set over skittering beats, clunking bass, and the occasional quiet melody. Like Coltrane, its displaced-ness has a cool zen hum. Well suited for strolling past big empty buildings about to fill up for the school year.
The condensed city sounds hummed over the sedate Seattle scenery. It was the sum of everything I missed about this city while I was away this summer. And it totally redeemed my afternoon.