Cunningly camouflaged by new luminous skin and armed with a different approach, MU manages to effortlessly generate its addictive idiosyncratic spell once again.
Richard Talbot, Jamie Crossley and Duncan Meadows (together known as Marconi Union), couldn’t have chosen a more suitable title for their new effort on UK’s eccentric independent boutique imprint, Chemical Tapes. Departures, is in fact, a complete and utter departure from Marconi Union’s signature sound and style, which the band had been developing, articulating and sharpening for twelve years.
After releasing a number of successful albums, EPs and collaborative works—including one with the mighty Jah Wobble—and establishing itself as one of the most innovative ambient outfits of the 21st century, MU decided it was time for a change. It was a good call, as one more output in the familiar MU vein would have simply been more of the same. And let’s face it, there’s more than enough sonic recycling on this planet.
So what do we have here? Five, aptly titled pieces: “Still,” “Departure,” “Aftermath,” “Loss” and “Fading.” Although the sound and style are different, MU’s emotive nocturnal hooks are present and lethal as always. A spark of improvisation is present as well, equipping the tunes with raw, fluid honesty. Contemplative, disconnected, cathartic. Cold and harsh, yet heartwarming and caressing. Hope emerges out of darkness. Beauty shines out of harshness. Cunningly camouflaged by new luminous skin and armed with a different approach, MU manages to effortlessly generate its addictive idiosyncratic spell once again. I have been following MU since 2009 and own most of its outputs; however, it would have certainly taken me a while to realize who’s responsible for these sounds, had I not been told. Some parts of the EP could have made me suspect I’m listening to a refreshing Budd / Eno collaboration.
MU has managed to perform a very tricky task: reinventing itself without losing the magic that built a solid fanbase throughout twelve years. This is truly rare. Departures leaves us intrigued and longing for more. Who knows what the future holds for the band, but let’s hope Talbot, Crossley and Meadows will keep investigating the more minimal and subtle path Departures reveals.
Departures is available on Chemical Tapes.