Release Date: Jan 30, 2012
Record label: Real World Records
Genre(s): Jazz, Pop/Rock
This self-titled third album from Portico Quartet sees a slight change in personnel but a strong continuation and development of the group's hybrid, beguiling instrumental compositions. An act that have semi-confounded critics since their debut album in 2008 and the resultant Mercury Music Prize nomination, the ‘they are/n’t jazz’ discussion seems to finally have been put to bed. The answer is: they aren’t.
Portico Quartet found the young audience that put them on the 2008 Mercury prize shortlist through the unique sound they invented as buskers – hooky and danceable systems music coloured by the melodic chime of the tuned hang drum, with jazzy textures furnished by a double-bass and a sax. It was a seductive mix, but one with limited growth potential. By 2009's Isla, Portico were expanding with synthesised strings and other electronics, and this year's eponymously titled release takes that process further, with a guest appearance from Swedish singer and producer Cornelia Dahlgren adding her silvery vocals and composing input to the evocative Sleepless, the best track.
Grand statements re how Portico Quartet are indubitably the success-bound new faces of jazz are ostensibly bandied about non-stop whenever they release a new album. Sure, they’ve come a long way: gone are the years and months spent busking outside the National Theatre; auspicious debut ‘Knee-Deep In The North Sea’ was nominated for a Mercury. But the crits’ predictions have never really foretold the truth: follow-up ‘Isla’ passed most of us by and the band has never truly broken down the barrier between jazz and pop.
An endlessly absorbing third LP from the inspired jazz outfit. Chris Parkin 2012 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.