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Neutral Milk Hotel Book in the Works

Kim Cooper, self described “editrix” of Scram, a 12-year old journal focusing on underappreciated artists, was recently commissioned to write a book for Continuum’s 33 1/3 series, focusing on Neutral Milk Hotel’s much revered In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Each chapbook in the series is written by a music journalist with a unique fondness for their chosen album, and details how its influence has played out in their lives, musical and otherwise. Upcoming releases in the series include Radiohead’s OK Computer, The Replacements’ Let It Be (penned by non other than Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy), and My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, so the estimable Jeff Mangum is in some pretty hott company. “I’m trying not to set much in stone this early in the creative process,” Cooper told Pitchfork via email. “Neutral Milk Hotel is a magical band, and I believe that their story will unfold in ways I couldn’t begin to predict or control. I’m planning to immerse myself in the music, speak with the people who made it and who love it, and be open to any unpredictable notion or precognitive event that presents itself along the way.” No release date is presently set for the book, but given how these things play out, it should be in stores by the middle of next year. Aeroplane was released in 1998 to critical acclaim, and has since become widely accepted as one of the finest albums of its decade (except by those who can’t manage to get past that “I love you, Jesus Christ” bit). Following its release and subsequent touring, Mangum has displayed a remarkable indifference to the album’s success, and indeed, to pop music in general. Mangum’s most recent release is, for example, a collection of Bulgarian folk music, released on Orange Twin Records under the title Orange Twin Field Works Vol. 1. In addition, the band’s official site (yes, there is one) has long alluded to a future double-disc Neutral Milk Hotel release that will feature early material as well as live and unreleased tracks, but at the same time slyly indicates that the material might not see the light of day for quite some time– for fuck’s sake, man! In the meantime, Cooper is releasing a book this fall called Lost on the Grooves. The book “exists to nudge the canon so lost records tumble out,” reads the book’s introduction. “We want to highlight sub-genres that produced great music but have fallen out of critical favor, assuming they were ever in it.” Contributors include Doug Gillard of Guided by Voices, Derrick Bostrom of the Meat Puppets, Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, as well as a slew of other talented music writers and musicians. “With the book’s release,” Cooper says, “we’ll be launching a website that will feature some of the rare and out-of-print music celebrated in the book, with new expanded liner notes and contributions from the artists. We’re also planning a series of concerts, parties and readings all over the U.S. and in Canada and France, so interested parties should watch our website or email to get on the invite list.”