Dead Air is Marconi Union’s tenth studio album in a career that began in 2002. Starting with the following year’s Under Wires And Searchlights, Marconi Union have created an explorative body of instrumental work that’s shifted between electronica, dub, minimalism, avant-jazz and ambient music. Along the way they’ve collaborated with the likes of Jah Wobble, remixed Max Richter and Vok, and provided soundtracks for art installations and other visual media. They’ve also had their own music remixed by Biosphere and Japan’s Steve Jansen, among others. Dead Air will be released on November 29, 2019.
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Marconi Union are considered one of the leading ambient (and electronic-synth) acts in the world, continuously topping many lists as the most important contemporary ambient artists around today. The Manchester band often draw comparisons with Brian Eno and Biosphere, perhaps Sigur Ros, but the graceful manner with which their richly melodic compositions unfold and the emotion these evoke sets them apart from their peers.
The new album offers ample evidence of a band in its prime. Marconi Union still sounds vital and original, enthused by the possibilities that music has to offer. “We’ve never wanted to repeat ourselves,” co-founder Richard Talbot says. “We’ve made ten albums and have been going for 17 years, but it still feels fresh. That’s been so important for us all the way through. We’re looking to do new things all the time.”
Indeed, the exquisite Dead Air bears only a passing resemblance to its 2016 forerunner, Ghost Stations. The trio has dispensed with beats, brass and guest musicians this time around, opting instead for a more intimate and textural approach, a constantly evolving sound-world of tones and sensory impressions.
Dead Air also bears little resemblance to the trio’s initial vision for it. “The album we set out to make had far more of a rhythmic element,” explains Talbot, “but fairly late in the process, we decided to completely change direction.” This is entirely in keeping with Marconi Union’s guiding methodology. Ideas remain fluid throughout the writing process, until Talbot and bandmates Jamie Crossley and Duncan Meadows ultimately settle on what feels right to them. As such, Dead Air is a sublime testament to their collective instinct.
As for the album title, Talbot says that the appeal of the phrase “dead air” lay in its ambiguity: “It not only has the radio connotation, but it also hints of some kind of ominous, environmental issue. That phrase has a certain atmosphere to it that was very attractive to us.”
Their full album discography is: Under Wires and Searchlights, Distance, A Lost Connection, Anomic, Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Vol 1), Different Colours, Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol 2), Ghost Stations (recipient of “Best Electronic Album” Award from Zone Music Reporter 2016), Tokyo+ and Dead Air.
Their most successful album to date is Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2). The title track, “Weightless,” is widely considered to be and often called “the most relaxing track in the world.” “Weightless” topped a scientific list of the most relaxing pieces of music of all time, research suggests that it can slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and decrease cortisone levels. Continuous worldwide spotlight on the track “Weightless” sparks new interest daily in Marconi Union and all their music as the story continues its viral reach across the globe online and in print, on radio and TV.
“Weightless” spent 156 weeks in the Top 10 Billboard Digital Song Sales Charts and held the No. 1 peak position for 37 weeks. The tune also spent many weeks on ITunes Electronic Music Chart, UK Independent charts, European and Australian charts, and consistently topped the Amazon Ambient Music bestsellers list.
Across their catalogue, Marconi Union has more than 107-million Spotify streams, 72-million You Tube streams, 31-million Apple Music streams, 250-thousand iTunes track downloads, 75-thousand iTunes full album downloads, and 26-thousand physical album sales.
Marconi Union has been written about in hundreds of magazines and newspapers, printed and online, including Time magazine. The Sunday Times said, “Marconi Union are amongst today’s most talented musicians.” Music OMH added, “Marconi Union have steadily released albums of pristine, clinical electronic music…continuing to refine their art in minimalist fashion and placing them firmly in the vanguard of acts making atmospheric, ambient music.” Praise from The Quietus included, “Marconi Union have always excelled at the creation of a sonic space in which to shelter.” And Uncut stated, “Marconi Union always find beauty in the bleakest places.”
You may pre-order the album on Bandcamp.