Goldbeak – 12 [Twelve]

Recording under OME – (Original Mark Edwards) Mark Edwards was responsible for some of the most arresting experimental indie releases of recent years. That project, based on an acoustic bed – was largely driven by Edwards’ ability to pen lyrics that skewed issues of the heart. Apparently written on acoustic guitars, which were then exposed to a range of sonic glitches, off-kilter beats – the material of that project resonated with a kind of knowing tenderness. 2010’s Tired Birds, an album from the OME iteration of Edwards’ career sounds timeless – playing it now will dismantle your tear ducts. Based in more regular singer-songwriting approach, disrupted by electronica, the collection was a deeply pleasing experiment in vulnerability. The thing is almost too intimate.

Skip to now – and we have a new vision from the Minneapolis artist. Goldbeak is the project name that has produced 12 [Twelve]. This thing continues Mark Edwards’ interest for cutting to the heart of process, but instead of lyrical cleverness and intimacy, the artist has ventured into a (mainly) instrumental exploration of themes.

Dropping the limits of lyrics, Edwards has pushed further into an exploratory vibe. We can’t call this collection ‘Ambient’ – there are too many beats, too much structure, and at one point, in ” / Follows” there’s a ripping guitar track from Jeremy Ylvisaker which ties the collection to a rockier tradition.  Here, the landscape is exposed to the sweep of the artist’s brush. He plays with color. Broad vistas of sound open up – the thing appears bigger than we could reasonably expect from a self-released collection. Perhaps Edwards has turned his intense introversion into an equally intense exploration of the outer.

The magic of 12[Twelve] happens in tracks like “Done Wrong, Franky”, “Fthr. Dove”, and “Djtrouble” which preserve the intimacy of earlier projects. These more pensive moments – with cleverly tweaked ‘straight-from-the-box-drum-machine’ patterns – root us to Mark Edwards principle concern; make this personal. For all the scope and breadth of vision which are successfully accomplished the artist can’t conceal the fact that it’s his own heart, and human scale that does all the thinking. Again, for all the glitches and grains of manipulated texture, Mark Edwards has produced an experiment of openness.

We should pause on closing track “Djtrouble”. Unlock this track and all the others will fall. Polished high-end guitar phrasing and brushed snares pretend this is a conventional track. The drone, and the space between things opens up a meditative piece that lingers around the artist’s love for process. It’s true that we’re addressing the obvious dislocation between this kind of music and the mainstream. By the time we arrive at the monumental dissolve in the last 60 seconds of the piece we understand that the artist may have views that sit in direct contrast to a desire for radio play.

There’s a confidence that comes in self-knowledge – a kind of mastery within the experiment that allows an artist to correct error and frame imperfections of the human experience. 12 [Twelve] is Mark Edwards most recent masterstroke. This album is a quietly thrilling dispatch from an artist who will most likely appreciates it’s value, will nod to it’s impermanence, and move forward with a new set of challenges. As a project Goldbeak is familiar, it’s experimental, and it’s remarkable.




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