I did my research and according to the formidable information powerhouse and everybody’s good old failsafe site, Wikipedia, ambient music is described, and I quote: “Intended to enhance acoustic and atmospheric idiosyncrasies in the sound environment”. So to you and me or the untrained ear, that’s background music. Something we relate with awkward visits to the barbers, Pilates classes and other sluggish forms of physical activity.Marconi Union, consisting of Richard Talbot, Jamie Crossley and Duncan Meadows, along with Jah Wobble’s intermittently sublime basslines, have created a body of work that is captivating, yet equally disturbing. The album title, Anomic, which is the slightly more worrying term for alienation and social instability or disorientation, is gritty but gives you a sense of weightlessness. I can’t imagine what their live performances would be like to experience. I felt myself becoming increasingly complacent with tracks like ‘Terminus’, ‘Times of Despair’, and the album title track, and in a trance-like state amidst their low tones and prominent rhythm sections. You’re struck by ‘Wealth’, a succulent textured sound whose richness of African percussion you can almost feel. And then there’s ‘Love in the Banlieues’, a song essentially about falling in love in a French council estate. My favourite was ‘Reality Crash’, blending oriental elements with sounds illustrating a feeling of despair, but the real eye-opener was ‘The Rain Has Stopped’; the punchiest track of the album and the only one to contain vocals, in the form of a poem. What failed to enlighten me was the fact the album told no story and I was not enticed from beginning to end. In order for this kind of music to earn commercial success they must have a lot of faith in their niche audience. A crowd pleaser it was not, but with an open mind and a set of headphones it’s a damn sight cheaper than your weekly Feng Shui class. Words: Emma Louise Milton.