Marconi Union has a sensual relationship with sound. The five ambient evening hymns found on their cassette Departures (29'16") explore slower rhythms, replacing our sense of time with the calm solemnity one aspires to in his best moments. A faint flow undulates serenely at the heart of Departures. A confident moody mix of clean guitar riffs, shape-shifting digital textures and skeletal backdrops, this work's fragile form allows one's self to momentarily disappear into it. Interested in indeterminacy, a feeling for the infinite and not predictability and closure, these pieces produce an internal rhythm - one in which sounds vaguely repeat and resound. Arousing meditation, the imagined, composed, directed and ultimately stilling songs each build up to a subtle climax, only to roll off in atmospheric innuendo. For being so minimal, Departures has quite a broad scope, as it incorporates the nuanced action of three strongly characterized players. Weaving an overall pattern of unity, the individual musical lines produced by this trio seem more like conversations than competing arguments. While dark, brooding sonic tides expand and recede, reverberant keyboard tones resound along rolling clouds of sound. Thin organ chords emerge and shift, underscoring minor key piano notes - a quietly murmuring forest of electronic effects in the background. Effectively slipping in samples of software distortion, a tremulous glowing film softens otherwise bleak themes. Configured as a framework of changing and decisive motion, MU reveals a developed sense of composition and pacing across a range of textures and methods. Their focus is on structure and the decay of structure, with both the formed and the formless vying for space. The resulting compositions are dense, gentle and time slowing. Departures is a unique and delicate assortment of subtly dramatic and dreamy textures - which may prove challenging to appreciate. With so many available distractions, the act of listening feels more and more like a controlled impairment. Yet once achieved, the experience is so much richer.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 23 July 2015