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Live / stage review

Marconi Union, 16 June, Yellow Arch

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I feel slightly uneasy as I try to settle into an uncomfortable plastic chair in the darkened back room of Yellow Arch on a gloomy Sunday evening.

When it's announced that somebody calling themselves Professor Chill will be the opening act, my heart sinks. Can they be serious? It's a bit of a surprise when a slightly older gentleman shuffles out, positioning himself behind his laptop. He certainly resembles an academic, but in relation to 'chill'?

Twenty minutes later I have to pick my jaw up off the floor, as a compelling ambient soundscape is expertly curated. Not only that, but I suspect that it's partially improvised, responding dynamically to people and emotions within the space. I subsequently discover that Professor Chill is none other than Dr Rupert Till, Professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield.

I have to pick my jaw up off the floor

In reality, this shouldn't have come as a surprise. Eight years ago Marconi Union, the headline three-piece from Manchester, worked with sound therapists to create 'Weightless'. It's a composition that has officially been assessed as being the most relaxing piece of music ever produced.

I greet this type of claim as a natural sceptic, but having completely lost myself in a genuinely immersive performance that combines unsettling, naturalistic snippets of domestic activity with more traditional musical samples, I can attest that such an ambitious assertion might not be out of the question.

It's all over far too soon. I would have more than happily remained lost in this blissful trance for many hours. Exiting into the dark drizzle of Kelham Island, my mind feels as though it has been cleansed.

Wayne Hoyle

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