Marconi Union - A Lost Connection
Hamish Gibson 14/07/2010
When it comes to minimalism, I've always found myself drawn to two sides of the spectrum. There's the ambient electro/dubstep of artists like Trentemoller and Lindstrom, and the simplistic acoustics of artists like Mountains and Beerjacket. Marconi Union's third album A Lost Connection falls somewhere in between. It's got all the samples you'd expect in a downbeat techno record, but what really brings it into the spotlight is the collaboration between these samples and some really interesting acoustics.
'Interiors' kicks the record off rather abstractly. Opening with a background very similar to the Mulholland Drive score, an echoing acoustic guitar smoothly introduces itself, patiently enough that the listener is given plenty of room for thought on their initial opinions. Within a matter of seconds there's already a bass synth forming part of the background, as more layers bring themselves together subtley. Soon enough it gets into a rhythmic repetition, signalling the start of the album.
Soon after that the album begins to try out different things. It goes from the backwards ambience of 'Endless Winter', where the changing drums force you to re-interpret the layered sounds over and over, to the confident growth of 'Stationary'. This is probably my favourite thing about the band's efforts; they're much more obviously aiming at experimenting rather than inspiring.
Although there's a significant drawback from this method: no consistency. Each track explores a wealth of new ideas, and each of these ideas are undoubtedly fascinating, but none of them tie in together to any real extent. The piano sample on 'Transient' is really well put together, and juxtaposed well against the reverbs of the backing track, but there's no overarching atmosphere or theme. That said, I can't say a bad word against any single concept in this album, particularly the M83-esque ambience of 'We Travel'.
A Lost Connection opens abstractly, and never really goes anywhere. But to be perfectly honest, I don't really mind.
A Lost Connection is out on July 12 on Just Music.