"Knee Deep in the North Sea" originally came out a few years ago and was correctly lauded as a contemporary jazz classic. This re-release is essentially the same set of tunes but they have been remixed to sonic perfection by Mr John Leckie (Stone Roses, Radiohead...)
The production here is excellent - there is now more space and depth in the sound. The haunting tones of the hang drum shimmer like an amber sunset. Not a single pluck of the bass is lost. Crisp drums skitter and scatter. The saxophone is bruised and aching. Many of the songs evoke travel and reflective journeys (Steve Reich definitely an influence). There is much blissful repetition to be heard. Tunes such as the title track, "Steps in the Wrong Direction", "Pompidou" and "Prickly Pear" are wonderfully catchy and melodious and occasionally playful. A joy to listen to.
The bonus tracks here are also more than welcome - cosmic and loopy live renditions that give a good flavour of what the band are like in concert.
Here's hoping that this re-release will introduce Portico Quartet to a wider audience. Their music is both experimental and accessible and demands repeated listening.