This remarkable album was created by a group that’s becoming well-known for their signature impressionistic space-ambient sounds. Marconi Union is Richard Talbot, Jamie Crossley, and Duncan Meadows, although the group typically collaborates with other musicians. They started recording in 2003. Their reputation and popularity has grown over the years. This is their 7th album.
The British Academy of Sound Therapy asked Marconi Union to write a piece of relaxing music. The first “Weightless” track was then tested at the Mindlab Institute. Researchers reported that the music slowed the heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and decreased levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. The track was released on October 16, 2011. When the results were published, there was a bit of a sensation. The song has been downloaded 55,000 times from iTunes alone. The track even was named as one of the “Inventions of the Year”, and hailed as “aural bliss” by TIME Magazine. It is the first track of this CD.
“Weightless: Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2” follows “Beautifully Falling Apart: Ambient Transmissions Vol 1” (2011). The group describes it as a “side-step” instead of a follow-up album. Marconi Union has continued to work the vein of sound therapy and relaxation. The musicians were inspired to create more music using the same approach. The tracks are simply numbered 1 through 6.
The music is experimental and space-ambient electronica. The sounds are restrained. Soft pulsing filters through the background, while synthetic chords lay down a tonal center-of-gravity platform for gentle melodies and chords. A piano is included in the first track, and other acoustic instruments make appearances.
The tracks on “Weightless” are not melodic and don’t feature chordal progressions. The sounds aren’t organized into repeating song or dance forms. The music is constructed of layers and layers of different sounds that float in and out of the texture over time. In that sense, it certainly is more of an impression of music, or impressionistic electronic music, than it is music in the generally understood sense of the word to Western listeners.
This music is an aural narcotic!
Something tremendous and incredible happens as the music flows along. It shapes the listener’s emotions and senses in subtle ways. Since the musical ideas are so minimal, one wouldn’t suspect the CD of having the impact that it does. The music is indeed relaxing, or totally chill-axing, whichever you prefer. It gets the job done. One British newspaper warned motorists not to listen to this music while driving, and that’s sensible advice.
“Weightless” is very highly recommended for use with every kind of healing modality, and also for insomniacs. It would work well for any kind of deeply focused ritual or spell work requiring low-key background music. The CD is also useful as music for meditation and contemplation, although it may be a little too low-key for yoga practice. It’s an excellent album for simple calming and relaxing at home after work. It’s extraordinary in every sense.
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Artist: Marconi Union
Just Music, released Sept 22, 2014
6 tracks, $5.94 download at iTunes