Thursday, 1 March 2012
Album: Portico Quartet
Release Date: 30/1/2012
A moving and in places astoundingly affecting third album from the London electro- jazz ensemble
At the end of Sebastien Faulks' harrowing 1993 First World War classic "Birdsong" chief character Stephen Wraysford emerges from an underground bunker in a trench to find himself alone in a vast expanse of a desolate field torn apart and stripped bare by bomb shelling and warfare. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what feelings Wrayford would have felt had that been a true circumstance in his case, but it's safe to say that Portico Quartet's self- titled third album would have been a fitting soundtrack to such a moment.
Almost every single song, nay, every single sound, move, key change or note on this record is emotive and seems to conjure up some sort of atmosphere deep within the soul. "Spinner" is particularly beautiful. It's lead by a piercing and sorrowful saxophone over the background of a rhythmic and paranoid sounding bassline and electronic bleeps that filter in and out minimalistically. "Export For Hot Climates", although only just over a minute long, sounds desperately sad, a cold and glacial piano melody sounding tragically lonely as though the light of life itself is slowly slipping away. "4096 Colours" is comprised of barely- there squelching synths and a lonely, echoing saxophone lead line that atmospherically firmly places you in the shoes of Wraysfield at the end of "Birdsong" and shoves desolation down your throat in the most beautiful of manners.
Despite being occasionally inconsistent, "Portico Quartet" is a brooding, affecting and mesmerising piece of work. The way it's crafted and put together ensures that an experience and connection is felt with an enormous range of different notes and sounds played and made on the record, and the melodies themselves are memorably sad but beautiful. "Portico Quartet" is the best soundtrack to emptiness that you're likely to hear all year.
Download: 1) Spinner, 2) 4096 Colours, 3) Export For Hot Climates
For Fans Of: Polar Bear, James Blake, Miles Davis