Albums of 2012 pt. 2 - Dirk Brick - Music Is Better One Note
Few genres seem to attract a greater number of purists than the One Note Music scene, and Dirk Brick has always been a dark horse amongst their midst. The consensus seems to be that, if the song contains anything beyond a single sustained note coupled, at a push, with monotonous singing, then it just ain't ONM. It's drone.
Indeed, there are some who insist that even vocals are taboo. The really hardcore purists, though, are those who insist that true ONM contains but one note per album. I can see the logic behind that approach, but its lead to the likes of The Filing Cabinets and James James James Jeans James; both of whom have utterly impenetrable back catalogues comprised of hundreds upon hundreds of albums, often recorded and released at a staggering rate of up to ten a day. With no vocals or variation, approaching their work is a truly daunting task for a newcomer to the scene. Where to begin?
Dirk Brick has long been ostracised by the ONM community. He's never used vocals, but even more controversially, he's used instruments that lack a keyboard interface and a digital soundboard. Strings, woodwind, brass – the idea that tonal variation might result as a consequence of human infallibility is too much for the more hardline members of the ONM scene to take. His iconoclastic approach has resulted in him being labelled as the purveyor of “ONM music for people who don't like ONM music.”
But I've never seen that as a bad thing. Why shouldn't there be a warm and friendly entry-point into a genre whose deep, meditative rewards are hidden behind an impenetrable veil of cold mechanical alienation?
His latest album, though, will doubtlessly lose Brick what few supporters he had remaining within the OMN scene. However, it may also be his masterpiece.
For Music Is Better One Note, Brick spent a few years walking the earth with a tape recorder on a global search for monotonous drones. By the roll of dice he settled on a key – E – before obsessively collecting and compiling a deep sound collage of flushing toilets, distant traffic, lowing cattle, humming machinery and Schyyvyetchyan chanting.
The objections from the ONM scene were predictable. Up to 72 instances of notational variation were highlighted by one particularly obsessive critic; but the bulk of the criticism was directed at Brick's tendency to allow for layering of sounds. It was pointed out that, at some points, Music Is Better One Note even comes close to forming chords.
So whilst what little respect he might have once harboured amongst the ONM scene is now effectively destroyed, Brick need not worry. True, his peers will no longer give him the time of day, but it's their loss. The rest of us have this beautifully sustained piece of tonally rich drone which creates a listening experience akin to ambling through a benevolent Experience Machine.
Newcomers to the ONM scene would do well to lose themselves in these sounds before attempting such harsh epics as The Filing Cabinets' Morse Code Sounds. And for providing a gateway for the curious drone-enthusiast who feels that Oren Ambarchi has become too maximalist, the ONM community should be eternally grateful to Dirk Brick.