Marconi Union: Capstone Theatre, Liverpool

Marconi Union (credits: artists' Facebook)

Marconi Union (credits: artists’ Facebook)

As electronic ambient group Marconi Union demonstrate their accumulated artistic growth, Getintothis’ Amaan Khan observes some artful innovation.

When Marconi Union came to Liverpool’s Capstone Theatre, it found a handful keen observers of the latest innovations in music there to check out the hype.

These observers are very much akin to the demographics you see in classical music concerts. The venue itself is more dedicated to upholding the more intellectual aspects of culture. People often think that ‘classical music‘ means centuries old pieces of Haydn, Mozart etc. but truth is, that was classical music of then and modern classical music or contemporary classical music, as it’s called, is much different and though in similar tradition, reflects present times.

This music with its comparatively sparse audience, sees innovations before they are used in popular music. From synthesisers to tape delays, all of it was championed in classical music before getting attention of popular musicians. The same way Stockhausen taught members of krautrock pioneers CAN whose sound influenced Radiohead, or how Brian Eno helped shape Bowie‘s sound.

Therefore it is safe to assume Marconi Union, who have been championed by Eno throughout their career, is classical music of today and saw similar audience. Their song Weightless is considered the most relaxing piece of music according to actual scientific research, which subsequently earned it 14 million listens on Spotify.

Read our personal reflection of Can’s legendary drummer Jaki Liebezeit 

In a live setting, Marconi Union offers more than just relaxing music though still mostly ambient in nature. On the contrary, we found the group adding tension to the split-screen projection of just a taxi crossing a perfectly normal bridge in slow motion. The projections were a significant part of the performance. Constantly split-screened, they featured everything from social and political footages, science related videos to phased out footages of everyday.

The visuals felt to be of concepts the music tried to reflect: scientific innovation, political tensions, social richness etc. Minimalistic in nature, most of the music started out with electronic soundscapes over which some consistent musical element would be introduced slowly till it settled in the back of the mind. By the end, the piece would have metamorphosed into something totally different from what it started as.

Obviously requiring the effort of giving active attention from the listeners, the artful performance felt special and unique to the ones who were there to give the attention. The theatre’s reputation and clear acoustics itself, perhaps, attracted the right kind of audience for the music and left them wishing that opportunities of seeing Marconi Union live come more often.