Review Summary: The Wit and Wisdom of Brett Black
Brett Black is a new age musician from New Zealand whose 2010 debut, Silent Tracks of Various Useful Lengths
, was the first completely silent album (arguably an EP, but the artist considers it an album) to be commercially available. There are seven tracks on the album, which are five seconds, ten seconds, twenty seconds, thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes and five minutes in length, as well as a bonus track, humorously called Silence – 1 Minute (Stadium Remix)
, which is also completely silent. Altogether, the album consists of ten minutes and five seconds of unadulterated silence.
Brett Black, who released the album on April 1st, clearly saw the humor in this project. However, The Silent Musician took his album seriously to a degree, advertising its songs as utility tracks for things like needing a time gap in a playlist, or silence for yoga and meditation. He expanded upon this latter idea on his 2015 follow-up Silent Songs for Yoga, Meditation and Relaxation
, which contains silent tracks of up to thirty minutes, and which solidified his classification as a new age artist.
There have been a couple other instances of silent albums both before and after Silent Tracks
. Punk label Stiff Records released a vinyl in 1980 titled The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan
, which used its silence along with its title as a way of conveying how they felt about their president elect at the time. Funk band Vulfpeck released a five minute and sixteen second silent album Sleepify
on Spotify, and encouraged fans to play it on repeat to generate revenue for the band (they made around $20,000 before Spotify removed it from their platform). But what I like about Brett Black is that his silence is not politically or financially motivated; rather, he wants his bits of silence to be used purposefully.
The album as a whole as a listening experience is nothing profound, although one may come to the ironic realization that the "silence" means that one is now more susceptible to the noises around them. Still, I would take ten minutes of silence over ten minutes of music that I'm not enjoying, at any time. I want to conclude by complimenting Brett Black in not presenting his music as an artistic statement, because there are already a wealth of silent tracks that attempt to make an impression through their title (i.e. The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences
, by Type O Negative), but ultimately come off as extremely tacky. Brett Black just wants to make the music that girls in yoga pants stretch to, and I really can't fault him for that.