November 16, 2001

Ed's Underground

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Listening to Andrew Coleman’s first full-length recording under his own name, it’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who once created jazzy drum n’ bass as Animals on Wheels. This album is a whole different breed of animal. Mixing echoing piano tones with subdued electronic beats and cranking computerized percussion, Coleman crafts a wholly enjoyable ambient outing.

“Escalator Apartment” combines skittering drums with Oval-esque cut-up sound effects for the most rousing track on the album — though the tinkling piano and warm bass drone still keep things relaxed. “Plot Lost Sixteen” meanders along on a loose rhythm as descending grinding noises glide from right to left.

Much of the album stays close to this mood — somehow evoking images of both a cool deserted tundra and the warm tropical beach depicted on the album’s cover. On “My Trouble with Purple,” Coleman creates a sparse atmosphere that sounds like robots simulating the interior of a rain forest, before jazzy drums and sad strings usher in a melancholy electronic jam.

Each of Coleman’s masterfully-arranged pieces evokes a unique and enveloping mood, capturing emotion in a way that few electronic composers can do. “Vocational Shouter” utilizes a funky synthetic slap-bass that calls up images of a somewhat sinister child’s game. On the standout “Ballet in a Safety Net,” the careful, stately rhythms and perky bloops and blips do indeed conjure up dancers twirling above the ground.

The upbeat “Wider Ignorance” is a more driving cut, with warm pulses and forceful drumming creating an image of city nightife. Coleman’s unique style — somewhere in between painting landscapes and making music — marks him as one of the more interesting electronic music innovators.

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