Alternative music reviews

October 3, 2005

Distance by Marconi Union

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Reclusive Manchester duo making calm, drifting ambience that can only be described as “cinematic”. To the uninitiated, ‘Distance’ would be one long-bore fest with no hooks, song structure or even vocals – it all depends on your musical taste if you will get anything out of Marconi Union. For those weaned on Sigur Ros, Brian Eno and some of Pink Floyd’s more drawn out and spacey moments will find a treasure trove of atmospheric and soothing sounds. ‘Distance’ is more of an “experience” than a collection of songs, full of warmth, subtle effects and droning synths. It’s difficult to review individual tracks as they merge into one another, the uniform nature apparent throughout. But let’s try – ‘Buildings And People’ has a creepy and unsettling undercurrent, slow and meandering in places yet still holds my attention. ‘Inter’ manipulates a dub bass line and steadily holds the beat whilst adding some nifty effects – not much happens but is highly listenable.

Jeez, this is such a hard album to review, ‘Distance’ can be summed as one 40 minute song broken down into seven parts; each part eerie, effortless with mostly lulls and very small peaks when a new instrument enters the mix. Actually the comparisons to Sigur Ros can be deceptive, as Marconi Union doesn’t use much dynamic range, keeping to one static sound level. Sigur Ros frequently move from intricate quiet moments to loud crescendos within one song, creating greater impact. Despite the samey nature, ‘Distance’ is an ideal accompaniment to closing yourself off from the outside world.

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