Out now on the new Naarm-based label Beloved Recordings, Lewis Coleman’s latest offering Offline is a collection of songs grounded in a desire to generate a current within stagnant and hopeless waters. It marks a significant departure from Coleman’s previous, more brooding and introverted record Method Of Places, and as he leans into a more confident, outward-facing aspect of himself, so too does Offline. It’s music replete with playful arrangements and kinetic opportunity and, as Coleman states, “songs that are hot, warm, saturated and fun”.
From lanky, dawdling guitar lines to propulsive drums and coiled, abstract string phrasing, Offline undulates through Coleman’s idiosyncrasies and observations, fluxing and unfurling through less familiar aspects of his identity in conspicuous and playful ways. In Coleman’s words, Offline “explores the fantasy worlds we, by the paradox of technological separateness and closeness, build around ourselves and the people we love, and the social architectures around sharing and selling our lives in this landscape.”
Coleman had planned to play more shows around Method Of Places but, like many of us in the early days of the pandemic, he spent a lot of time alone instead. He insulated himself in his bungalow studio, crafting what would become, for him, a collection of songs that celebrate a more confident and daring side. His goals were simple, and perhaps an antidote to the time: Create “a record that encourages the listener to energise themselves and move forward. It’s music to get out of bed for.”
With most of the instrumentation and lyrics laid down by Coleman in Naarm, a five-day stint in Meanjin/Brisbane with dear friend Sam Cromack of Ball Park Music granted Coleman time to shape and oxygenate the structure of Offline and its lyrical form. What emerges is a collection of songs that both melodically and lyrically conjure imagery of someone looking inwards to expand outwards.
Between his two records, Coleman has become a preeminent collaborator, producing music for and performing with Mo’Ju, Gabriella Cohen, Ruby Gill, Kat Edwards, Darvid Thor and Coda Chroma. A generous, well (be)loved and similarly underrated musical gem in our community, he has comfortably come into his own.
With a series of visual accompaniments aded by Jack Ralph, Myka Wallace & Darvid Thor, Offline can’t be relegated to a particular medium or craft, more a series of impressions, moods and abstractions that accentuate Coleman’s movement through the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It is, as Coleman suggests, “discovering how colour can be brought out of the blue and into the reds”.
Offline is a strut with Coleman and his friends; it’s a top button undone and coarse Indigo sheets. It arrives creased and complex like Coleman, and can’t be ironed out.
Release: October 27th, 2023, Beloved Recordings