The album Balance by Mark Edwards comes with an unusual proviso. “I spend my life throwing stones,” Edwards writes in a note on his promotional website, markedwardstunes.com, “and now I’ve gone and built a glass house.” Edwards is a music critic at the London Sunday Times, and Balance is his venture onto the other side of what he somewhat jokingly suggests to be the adversarial arrangement between critic and musician.
Balance was released late last November on the Spokes label and Edwards has posted one its tracks, a “bed of electronic sound”¹ and “whirring rhythms”¹ titled “There Is No Hope in Perfection,” for free download on his last.fm page (MP3). With a pneumatic beat and a loping keyboard melody that sounds like it was accomplished on a “wobbly synth”¹, the song gains additional depth as it moves along thanks to an emphasis on “hypnotic repetition”² and “contrasting textures”².
Like a lot of bedroom-studio instrumental electronic pop (there’s an acronym in there, somewhere), “There Is No Hope” has a distinct background (that beat) and foreground (that melodic element); what makes it work is how the beat is fuzzy and warm, while the melody is looped and simple — in his own quiet way, Edwards has found common ground between background and foreground by humanizing the rhythmic, or mechanical, element and mechanizing the emotional, or melodic, element. Also a plus, a savory modal riff arrives close to the end to lend a bit of surprise, but it doesn’t disrupt the “sombre ambience”³.
In an effort to bridge the gap -- or strike a balance -- between Edwards's dual roles as musician and critic, the above text in quotation marks was borrowed from record reviews that he's written: ¹ Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story: Inlandish (Gronland), timesonline.co.uk, January 13, 2008; ² Wire: Read & Burn 03 (Pink Flag), timesonline.co.uk, November 18, 2007; ³ Robery Fripp & Brian Eno: Beyond Even (1992-2006) (DGM), timesonline.co.uk, October 21, 2007.a