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Marconi Union: Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 1) (Just Music)

This collection of six lengthy pieces from Manchester duo Marconi Union lives up to its name. Most of its tracks fall between seven or eight minutes in length, mostly beatless and gloomy, full of delicate electronics and pads augmented and enhanced by looping and manipulated guitar. “Breathing With Assistance” bears the same melancholy weight that characterized much of Labradford’s later output (or perhaps earlier incarnations of Mark Nelson’s spin-off Pan•American), with dubby delay applied to an otherwise morose albeit elegant palette of sounds. The style doesn’t deviate too much from this, with a score-like quality carrying through each piece. Its tragic beauty serves the title well, with the effects and crackles and pops that run through most of these pieces helping lend a graceful degradation. This decline is emphasized in the second half of the album, where the dub elements drop out and the result is something more serene and stark, particularly on the stunning title track. It’s not without some optimism in its pensiveness overall, with closing track “A Shower of Sparks” glimmering with the suggestion that something bigger and better is around the corner. Perhaps they’ve served the old adage that you must destroy in order to rebuild, and what a beautiful falling apart it is.

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