Ghost Stations is the ninth album by UK-based Marconi Union, the writing-performing trio of founding members Richard Talbot and Jamie Crossley with keyboardist Duncan Meadows. They’ve gained a world-wide following with their experimental ambient-electronica blended with elements of jazz. This album follows in a natural progression from their record-breaking previous album Weightless.
Ghost Stations is the result of two years of studio experiments. There are four very long songs that range from 10 to 14 minutes each. The theme of the album is abandonment, empty spaces and dereliction. That said, Marconi Union’s compositions consist of layer upon layer of sounds, effects, melodies, drones, and effects. The album opens with “Sleeper”, an ironically energizing track that features Giorgio Li Calzi on trumpet. The instrument is manipulated to sound as though it’s being played in a vast empty space.
Track 2: Remnants / Shadow Scheme begins with a quiet, ponderous keyboard chorale. It evolves into an ambient track that evokes the dark empty reaches of outer space. The song gains texture, rhythm, and energy about five minutes into the 12-minute track. Track 2 flows seamlessly into Track 3: Abandoned / In Silence. This track opens with a peculiar Satie-like piano theme and mildly dissonant bells. Guest musician Andy Dobson is featured on the clarinet. This is the most orchestral of the CD’s songs.
Part of what makes Marconi Union’s music so attractive is the pacing of the musical ideas. The lengthy songs offer plenty of time to explore melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ideas. The structure of the compositions echoes the concerto allegro form used in classical orchestral works, with the exposition of the primary theme followed by secondary themes and developmental sections, followed by a triumphal return of the primary theme as the music winds to a close. This patient thematic development creates the sense of an epic, heroic musical journey.
Unlike the somnolent Weightless,”Ghost Stations is more dramatic and visceral, and packs more of a musical punch. It leans toward the story-telling quality of a film-score, albeit without any residue of angst or dramatic hyperbole. This gorgeous music would be quite fine for divination, rituals, meditation, exercising, and for focusing intention during spell work. Highly recommended!
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Artist: Marconi Union
Just Music 2016
4 tracks, 46 minutes
CD $12.99, mp3 $9.49, vinyl $31.98