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By Eric Campos | April 9, 2005

Wacky music and literature. Those two things involved put me in the mood for…well, reading. Not exactly for love; that’s a whole other combination of things. Yes, I can get lost in a book for hours if there’s something playing in the background that’s not too abrasive and is at least a little bit different. Something that creates an unforgettable soundtrack for those pages read. Whenever I hear certain tunes from the likes of The Secret Chiefs 3, Eyvind Kang, Tin Hat Trio and Fantomas, they bring back certain passages from various books and that’s something I’ll always treasure more than a favorite scene in a movie, or beating yet another videogame. This is why I feel the marriage of musical curiosity One Ring Zero with the works of several noteworthy authors is a union that deserves to be celebrated.

One Ring Zero is mainly two musicians, Joshua Camp and Michael Hearst, one on accordion and the other on claviola. With an ever rotating back-up band, One Ring Zero performs music that sounds something like alterna-klezmer. So basically, it’s not something that you’re used to hearing, unless your musical tastes are pretty bizarre and in that case you may discover that they sound a bit like some of the acts I previously mentioned. What makes these guys really stand out, however, is their decision to collaborate with a bunch of well-known authors, asking these writers to pen lyrics for their music. Might not sound like such a big deal, but as these writers put it, and as you may know if you are a writer yourself, there are different types of writing and if you’re good at one, it’s more than likely that you’re not as fluent at the others. Such is the case here as authors of books are now asked to write song lyrics and they find it to be a daunting task. But their efforts bear unusual fruit, providing sweet nectar for the ears.

“As Smart As They Are” is, for the most part, a talking head interview documentary. The interviews are garnished with live and studio footage of the band, that pulls you further into the One Ring Zero experience. I would have liked to have been immersed a little further into their world than I felt I was, but this film still does a good job of telling the story of this unique band.

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