| Written by: Matt Kelly
Who wants to play Mono/Poly?
I’m not asking if you want to join me for one of the world’s best-known board games … Although I do love nothing more than crushing my friends under the weight of my property empire. I’m asking if you would like to listen to Charles E. Dickerson (Mono/poly) play some bass music?
No crushing our friends then; quite the opposite. This Mono/Poly is all about bringing things together; people, sounds and feelings. Charles E. Dickerson recognizes that it’s hard to describe and label his music or his influences. This is a man who wants to create his own culture and who has spent the last eight years honing that dream. Appearing as one of the early faces in the L.A. beat making scene, way back in 2008, he has spent the subsequent years spanning genres, gathering ideas and trying to leave his imprint wherever he went. Along with fellow pioneers Flying Lotus and the Brainfeeder Record Label he helped to develop the sound and aesthetic of the L.A. beat maker scene. The scene has recently become an international phenomenon, with acts like Flying Lotus reaching a mainstream audience across the US and abroad. As testament to this success the latest Flying Lotus album has guest appearances from megastars like Kendrik Lamar, Snoop Dog and legendary pianist Herbie Hancock.
Dickerson was born in 1987 and grew up in Bakersfield, California, the home of country music legend Merle Haggard and the “Bakersfield sound”. At the same time this amazing small town was home to 90’s Nu Metal giants “Korn”. Charles was always surrounded by a wide variety of sounds and even his stage name is taken from a musical device – The Korg Mono/Poly synthesizer. It’s obvious that the name “Mono/Poly” means a lot to him, however it’s also obvious that it encompasses more than he can easily explain. This idea of unexplained things plays heavily in the themes of both his music and his wider life. He talks about meditation, astral-projection, and Carlos Castaneda. Charles’ favorite movies are ones that are about outer body experiences and he takes influence as much from music as he does from ancient religions like Tibetan Buddhism and Gnostic thought. He is a genuine “renaissance man” – Mono/poly = Polymath.
Dickerson released his first full-length album in 2010 – “Paramatma”. Well received by critics and fans alike, he excelled in creating a sonic experience, which although dark and almost maniacal at points, is entirely enjoyable throughout. The experience is like a journey into the unconscious mind, but with a guarantee that we will always be able to leave when the last track ends. His later releases have characteristically moved around between sounds, never sticking to one genre, drawing praise for whatever style he is working with at the time. In a recent interview he railed against musicians who treat music like it’s not music, turning it into something formulaic. He sees too much of music today being dictated by “other people” and associations, instead of being judged as music.
His upcoming release on Brainfeeder is long awaited. So long in fact, that the original discussions between Flying Lotus and Mono/Poly began on Myspace, (Hello early 2000’s – this writer just about remembers you). Described as expansive and beautiful it feels like a mature record, less paranoiac than the previous work, and this probably reflects the maturing of the wider LA scene. The album incorporates much of the sound and vibe of other LA artists that Dickerson has worked with. Influenced heavily by his work with fellow LA artist Thundercat last year, Mono/Poly has perfected what he calls “electronic-classical-alchemy music”. An interesting choice of name for an artist who boils down, reduces and mixes sound elements to create something totally new, boundary pushing, exciting and alchemically golden.