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Portico Quartet CD

19 customer reviews

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Electronica meets future-jazz in Portico Quartet’s melodic, rhythmic music that mixes the inspiration of Steve Reich with a very contemporary kind of jazz improv. One that draws on electronica, ambient dance and rock music in an intense blend all their own. It’s the mix of ethereal sax, pulsing electronics, otherworldly loops, resonant hang, stripped back drum grooves and earthy ... Read more in Amazon's Portico Quartet Store

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Portico Quartet + Isla - 2010 Edition + Knee-Deep in the North Sea
Price For All Three: £27.00

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Product details

  • Audio CD (30 Jan. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Real World Records
  • ASIN: B0062XH7PK
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,622 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Window Seat
2. Ruins
3. Spinner
4. Rubidium
5. Export for Hot Climates
6. Lacker Boo
7. Steepless
8. 4096 Colours
9. City of Glass
10. Trace

Product Description

Product Description

Portico Quartet still sound like nothing you ever heard before. The Mercury nominated East London based outfit's unique music has expanded to embrace new sonic territories. Drawing on the inspiration of electronica, ambient, classical and dance music as they take their strange, beautiful, cinematic, future music to exciting new vistas where the inspiration of Burial, Mount Kimbie and Flying Lotus rubs shoulders with the textures of Arve Henriksen and Bon Iver and echoes of Steve Reich and Max Richter. But all underpinned by a shared joy in collective music making as the band push their inimitable music into the future.

BBC Review

Portico Quartet remain famous for two things: busking lucratively on London’s South Bank and employing the lilting gong of their UFO-like hang drum. But things have changed for this four-piece. The band’s wages are no longer thrown into open instrument cases, thanks in part to a profile-raising Mercury nomination in 2008 for their debut Knee-Deep in the North Sea. And last year their man on the hang departed: "I’ve always felt like a fraud at the hang drum," said Nick Mulvey.

It’s no biggie, though. This time out, the pretty, steely sound of the hang – taken up by new keysman Kier Vine – is set further back than on 2009’s Isla, just one sound among many. What this band should be acclaimed for instead is barrelling through time and genres to make bewitching mood music that’s on a par with Jaga Jazzist. Much like that Norwegian ensemble’s last effort, Portico Quartet (the album) is a mazy, fluid, ethereal suite of chamber jazz to get properly lost in.

Whereas Portico’s previous (second) album Isla was in thrall to Steve Reich and his ripple-effect minimalism, it seems Brian Eno, Four Tet and the Brainfeeder crew are touchstones on songs inspired by train journeys, on-tour blues and the soul-quieting effect of dramatic architecture. Jack Wylie’s sax and Vine’s keys weave dark, mournful tapestries around electronic drums and gadget-enabled bleeps and twitches, while the hang presents itself in ghostly samples and squawks and squeaks serve as on-the-road sound effects.

Everything still sounds familiarly Portico Quartet, only fresh, forward-thinking and a little bit tougher. Their arrangements and wide-open ambience remain sparse, but, on InterRailing-inspired Window Seat, are paired with the sort of drifting synths Oneohtrix Point Never is adored for. Ruins and Steepless – the latter featuring London-based Swedish singer Cornelia – carry the Radiohead gene always present in their improbably tuneful experiments. Ravey nightsongs such as Lacker Boo crackle with the electric, ominous energy of Flying Lotus, while Rubidium and 4096 Colours are bleary-eyed, melancholy and shot through with wintry mid-morning light. As journeys go, this one’s endlessly absorbing.

--Chris Parkin

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bruce TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
So after 2 albums of Jazz-influenced acoustic music, the Portico Quartet change their line-up and shift their direction. The question of course, is where to? But it's difficult to pin down and I still detect an element of improvisation, although it's a million miles from straight ahead Jazz.

The first 4 or 5 tracks embrace electronics, sampling and sequencing. The Jazzy elements are disguised, with less prominence to Soprano Sax and the sound of plucked Double Bass.

There is a tendency to set up a repetitive sequenced "hang" or other keyboard sample - this is synchronised with synthetic drum sounds, that were completely absent on the first two albums. After all - if you have a really good virtuoso drummer in the band - why do you need programmed drums? This gives the casual listener something to hang onto, but may deter Jazz fans.

The suspicion is that the band are turning their back on Jazz audiences and looking to attract people who would prefer DJ music in clubs. The sounds are intriguing and hypnotic. They could provide the soundtrack to an up-market, atmospheric thriller - but I suspect the real test will be seeing how the group approach this music live on stage. Will they veer into Free improv. territory or look to get the audience dancing to their programmed beats?

This is a direction that has been taken in European Jazz circles with artists like Nils Petter Molvaer and the sound has a quality that comes from an understanding of real instruments and a lot of playing. There is more interest than in most repetitive dance music.

"Sleepless" is where we veer most markedly away from Jazz and into trip-hop territory and could have appeared on a Massive Attack album, with no incongruity.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Simon on 11 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is an outstanding record, one of the few that should be denoted a classic of the british music scene in the last few years. High praise indeed, given that I've only had it for a few days to absorb. It's pertinently the first record to prompt me to actually write a review about it on Amazon.

I cannot recommend this more highly, no matter what previous listening experience you have had. The musical innovation on the record is outstanding, particularly when you consider that this is a mostly performed record (see them perform material from this live and you'll understand what I mean, they have complete mastery of the raw materials). Anything that sounds even remotely similar to this, of which actually I don't think there is much, will more often than not be produced by one person in front of a computer screen. To be able to create this variety and complexity of rhythm and texture through a 4 piece live instrumental band is sheer musicianship and virtuosity, and to render it on record in such a perfectly produced manner is even more mind-blowing. It's refreshing to hear a record so cleverly crafted, one that takes the listener on a narrative journey, a rarity in these days of fragmented listening and single mp3s.

Ok, time to stop gushing. In short, this is a phenomenally insightful reflection on the myriad interactions between the varied uk dance genres of the last 5 years and a achingly beautiful minimalist instrumental aesthetic - you should buy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Connor D. Beaton on 29 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of seeing Portico Quartet on stage in Edinburgh a little while ago now, and their music persuaded me to pick up their available studio albums. I enjoyed them, so when the new, self-titled album came out, I immediately bought it, and was surprised to find it was very different - but not necessarily in a bad way. The "post-jazz instrumental" labelling of Portico Quartet seems most appropriate to this album than any other; this is more experimental, specifically more electronic, with synthesised sounds complementing the acoustic ones. Although I liked that, that might ruin this album for those less ready to embrace the "post" part of post-jazz. That said, "Ruins" is an amazing, hypnotic track which does remind me of "Prickly Pear" and "Cittágazze", which were among my favourites from their previous albums. Tracks like "Lacker Boo" and "Steepless" foray further into electronic territory (and the latter has guest vocals!) but they never lose their jazz foundations. To sum up: a bit more adventurous and experimental than what they've released before, but the right audience will like it all the more for that.
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Format: Audio CD
This album is something of a departure from the earlier albums which were more identifiable as 'jazz'. Here, trip-hoppy electronic soundscapes predominate, with repetitive, pulsing synthetic figures providing the anchor for what may, or may not, be improvised overlaid music. I say that because it's difficult on this offering to distinguish between what might have been determined in advance from that which is truly spontaneous. That is not to say that this is a bad album, it most certainly is not. It's just that I'm not sure if it's jazz as most people know it. Jazz inflected -certainly, but to describe it as jazz as most people understand the term is stretching it a bit in my book. If you appreciate the likes of EST, the Cinematic Orchestra and Massive Attack you will probably like this but if you prefer your jazz to be more straightahead in form, then you may wish to sample before you buy.
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