I'm not a massive fan of ambient music, but I think Marconi Union are my favourite artist. Instead of going for something that sounds 'ethereal', their music has genuine depth and evokes a strange mix of both spatial and emotional sensations. It juxtaposes intelligence and warmth, purpose and relaxation and conjures up a cityscape of real detail.
As their fourth album, Tokyo retains the warm, meditative feel of the previous work, but is definitely much different instrumentally. The guitar is virtually absent and there is much more emphasis on the beats, which are nicely varied. Sometimes, like on 'Lost in Neon', melody almost feels like it is forming a relaxing backdrop as opposed to providing a focus for the listener.
'Tokyo' is a beautiful record and in terms of texture, the best and most detailed Marconi Union have produced. 'Red Line 12AM' and 'Nightworker' stand out for me for the sheer evocative weight of the music, providing a sort of language for the buildings, stations and centres contained by the city.
If you want to escape and don't have time to read a book, this would be a good choice. Marconi Union almost disappeared off the map a few years ago when their record label collapsed, but thankfully they stayed together to continue producing this life-affirming, modern music. It's time that collections like 'Distance', A Lost Connection' and now 'Tokyo' gained more recognition as they are placed so far ahead of anything else in their field.