Strange and beautiful is one way to describe the music of Portico Quartet; and in a live setting their uniqueness comes through in a myriad of ways.
Incorporating more and more influences into their music, the London foursome are moving away from their electronic jazz roots, and in the process morphing into something truly spectacular.
The double album, with the discs split between (shock horror) live performances and remixes, is an interesting showcase of how Portico Quartet sound like nothing else in your collection however you have amassed it.
The first disc, the live disc, was recorded whilst the band were touring their eponymous third album in 2012. Having heard nothing of the band previously I was incredibly surprised at how different they were. No what you’d call jazz at all, but really ambient. The beats and grooves come through loud and clear, and accessable too. City of Glass, track 2 here, is perhaps one of the best electronic tracks I’ve heard in a long time.
Then comes Rubidium/Line, with it’s rhythmic and hypnotic Hang introduction. If you didn’t know already, then these guys are signed to Real World Records – set up by world music devotee Peter Gabriel. It’s maybe the most “jazzy” track here, but you don’t feel like it is, even with the saxophone’s addition to the cymbal’s beat.
The centrepiece of the live disc is Steepless which features the vocals of Cornelia Dahlgren, as per the studio version. it is 8 minutes and 7 seconds of sheer brilliance that is well worth the buying price of the whole album.
Moving on to the remix disc, this is nine interpretations of tracks from luminaries such as SBTRKT, Will Ward and PQ. Generally speaking, remixes do nothing to an already existing song – they have to be special to even be remembered. Portico Quartet have ensured that these remixes add to the originals.
If you can manage to make it to Koko in the Camden area of London on the 17th April, you’ll be in for a treat as the Quartet play there. I’ll be in Manchester thumbing my twiddles!
Live/Remixes by Portico Quartet was released on 25thMarch on Real World Records.