One Ring Zero gives me Atwood

By Garth Paulson

Myla Goldberg is becoming the most unlikely of indie pop stars. The author of the bestselling novel Bee Season has all the skills to become a major player in the literary world, but the musical world? Even though she is a trained musician it seems unlikely, yet it’s happening. Last year she was the subject of the Decemberists “Song for Myla Goldberg” and this year her lyrics, as well her skills with the flute, are featured on One Ring Zero’s latest album As Smart As We Are.

Although One Ring Zero may be nearly invisible in the public eye, the same is not true within the world of literature. As Smart As We Are contains eighteen original songs with lyrics penned by some very famous authors, including Goldberg, Johnathan Ames, David Eggers, Rick Moody and Canada’s own Margaret Atwood. Michael Hearst, half of One Ring Zero, explains the genesis of As Smart As We Are underneath a shady alcove during the Calgary Folk Festival last weekend.

“We were the house band for McSweeny Publishing. We would play at readings they would have, so we got to know all the authors. Rick Moody was the first person to ask if we could improvise over top of his prose. Eventually we turned the tables and asked if he could write some lyrics for us.” Other authors followed and the strangest union between music and fiction was born.

Strange is definitely an adjective used to describe One Ring Zero’s lurching carnivalesque sound though words such as “original”, “avant-garde” and even “brilliant” work equally well. The band does not fear being labelled as different. “We’re very grateful they [the Folk Fest] were brave enough to give us the opportunity to play here. We’re not folk in the banjos and guitars sense, but we could be called folk in that we touch on music from all sorts of different countries,” Hearst said.

The easiest way to describe One Ring Zero lies in their indecipherability¬≠–able to play any type of festival, but never quite fit in. This is probably due to their fascination with obscure instruments, as the Claviola’s become the focus of One Ring Zero’s sound, and is described as a mixture between a melodica, accordion, and clarinet. Their website lists the odder instruments to have graced the band’s five albums, such as a bread Machine, kitty litter, and the theremin (played by waving your hand through an electro-magnetic field produced by the device). “I get bored very easily with just guitars bass and drums,” remarked Hearst.

The CD/book As Smart As We Are offers a breath of fresh air to the music aficionado who craves the peculiar as well as the individual of words who wishes to see how their favourite authors come across outside the page.

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