Portico - Living Fields (Ninja Tune)

Portico – Living Fields (Ninja Tune)

o83rAPbIn the four years since their last album, the Portico Quartet, have not only changed musically, but in the personnel department too. After the departure of Keir Vine, the rest of the group decided not to replace him, but to carry on as a trio under the simpler Portico moniker.

Their new album is a slick 38 minutes, that sojourns into more poppy territory than their previous records. This is down to the vocal collaborators, folk Rock singer Jono McCleary takes the lion’s share of vocal duties. His haunting vocals fit perfectly with the glitchy electronica Portico serve up. Alt-J’s Joe Newman makes three appearances on singles ‘101’, ‘Atacama’ and ‘Brittle’. There’s a dreamlike quality to these tracks, quite unlike anything Portico have released before. Closing perfectly with Jamie Woon’s contribution, ‘Memory of Newness’ which skillfully mixes Portico and Woon’s styles so perfectly, it’s hard to see where one stops and the other starts.

The obvious difference between ‘Living Fields’ and their previous three albums, is that the jazz elements have been toned down or simply removed, and their electronica tendencies have been ramped up. Fans of their original albums might be put off by this slight change. Luckily, however, the music is just as fresh and exciting as it was when they were a jazz quartet. The other noticeable difference are the amount of guest vocalists. In the past Portico Quartet tracks were predominantly instrumental, while McCleary, Newman and Woon do an excellent job, it does feel at times like the pieces don’t quite fit and what they’re really searching for is another past member in Nick Mulvey’s as shown by his new vocal evolution. While the idea of re-joining his old band might not fit in with his current solo plans, his inclusion in the future could really make an interesting addition, to this ever changing band.



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