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Mark Edwards - Balance

Mark Edwards, Balance

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

MARK Edwards says of his instrumental debut album that it’s “friendly music” that “wants to talk to you”.

Hearing what it has to say may be a bit of a problem. By its very nature, Balance is a concept album that will probably find it difficult to reach a large audience. That it just about deserves to is scant reward for the hard work that has clearly gone into it.

The album is composed of 10 instrumental pieces, assmbled in an almost beat-free style that aligns glassy guitar figures with minimalist keyboard notes.

Edwards himself is a former journalist turned composer and multi-instrumentalist who has been writing and recording the tracks since 2003.

His influences range from Eno at his most ambient, Air and American minimalist composer Harold Budd, as well as the layered guitar work of Dave ‘Aerial M’ Pajo.

But if you think that’s way too arty for easy listening, then consider that he’s also drawn from Oasis too.

Final track Noel Gallagher Lives His Dream is drawn from the Oasis style of songwriting, though not as blatantly as you might think – rather, it features “exactly the kind of chord sequence that Noel Gallagher likes to use for Oasis choruses”.

“So it’s just like Oasis minus the singer… and the drums… and the bass… and the rock guitars,” jokes Edwards.

How much you take to that depends on how much you like your music chilled out, blissful and distinctly adopting a less is more approach.

There’s no denying the album’s ability to soothe in places; but it could just as likely irritate at others. Occasionally, tracks have the habit of drifting into one another and sometimes find it difficult to stand out.

Highlights include album opener When The Space Unfolds – a song that alludes, via a Bob Dylan quote, to the importance Edwards places on the space between the notes. It’s soft, tranquil and embraces the most laidback elements of acts like Air.

It Might Happen is fragile and almost melancholy in its choice of riffs, while There Is No Hope In Perfection offers the closest thing on the album to a back-beat, as well as some more minimalist electronica and a teasing sense that there’s more to come from it. It never quite delivers, but as a musical form of foreplay it certainly gets the senses going.

There’s a cinematic feel to Who Cares About You? that thrives on some (slightly) grittier riffs and final track Noel Gallagher Lives His Dream is undeniably good fun so long as you don’t anticipate an Oasis-style swagger and rock out.

But as friendly, post-rock and heartfelt as Balance remains, it’s probably going to struggle to find a really large audience – which is a shame.

It should, however, be interesting to see where Edwards goes from here…

Download picks: Where The Space Unfolds, Who Cares About You?, Noel Gallagher Lives His Dream, It Might Happen

Track listing:

  1. When The Space Unfolds
  2. On Your Own
  3. It Might Happen
  4. Look
  5. There Is No Hope In Perfection
  6. You Have Burnt A Bridge
  7. Who Cares About You?
  8. Aviva Hotel
  9. How Other People Feel
  10. Noel Gallagher Lives His Dream