Blue Man Group's debut album, Audio, reflects over a decade's worth of musical and theatrical innovation. While its whimsical, visually involving stage performances have been popular since the early '90s, the group waited to make an album until it could find a recording space large enough to house its unique instruments, which include walls of drums, networks of plumbing pipe, and different lengths of vibrating fiberglass rods. Audio incorporates all of these instruments, along with baritone guitars, Hungarian cimbaloms (which are similar to dulcimers), and Chapman Sticks, into 14 eclectic instrumentals. These songs were written specifically for Audio and have never been performed at a Blue Man stage production. Though the spectacle of the group playing its sculptural, surreal-looking instruments is absent from the album, the complex, resonant sound of Audio is engaging enough on its own. In fact, the swooshing of the sword poles on "Utne Live Wire" and the fluttering angel poles on "Endless Column" sound even more alien without the visual accompaniment. Some of Audio's pieces ("Drumbone," "PVC IV") spotlight a specific Blue Man-made instrument, while others ("TV Song," "Club Nowhere") display the group's avant-garde pop sensibilities. "Rods and Cones," "Cat Video," and "Opening Mandelbrot" are other standout tracks from Audio, an album that proves the Blue Man Group is as innovative in the studio as it is onstage.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares