fri 15/11/2019

CD: Portico Quartet - Art in the Age of Automation | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Portico Quartet - Art in the Age of Automation

CD: Portico Quartet - Art in the Age of Automation

Post-jazzers revisit their early sound for some laidback grooves

Jazzy and ambient cinematic atmospherics

It seems quite a shock to consider that it’s now 10 years since Portico Quartet’s breakthrough album Knee-Deep in the North Sea was released to much acclaim and a Mercury Prize nomination for its melding of jazz, ambient electronic and minimalist sounds. Since then, the Londoners’ sound has edged progressively away from their cool jazz foundation until they wholeheartedly embraced a more electronic vibe as the three-piece, Portico in 2014.

Their new album, Art in the Age of Automation, finds Keir Vine rejoining the band with his hang drum, ensuring a return to many elements of the instrumental sound that brought these ambient explorers to public attention. Jazzy and ambient cinematic atmospherics may again be the order of the day but there is certainly nothing stale about Portico Quartet in 2017.

Art in the Age of Automation, like Portico Quartet’s early discs, is an album to lie back and sink into. Duncan Bellamy and Milo Fitzpatrick’s mellow and jazzy grooves provide a solid but understated structure to the trip-hoppy “A Luminous Beam” and the minimalist funk of “RGB”, while Jack Wylie’s cool sax floats delicately about “Objects to Place in a Tomb” and even brings to mind the young Courtney Pine on “Current History”. Vine’s hang drum lays down layers of bubbling ambience on the title track and “Beyond Dialogue” as the groove grows and drops out around him, pushing further out into the cheese-free chill-out zone. It’s a relaxing trip that never becomes mere background music.

Art in the Age of Automation is certainly not an album that will have many shaking a leg, but Portico Quartet are still more than capable of conjuring up a place in which to lose yourself and escape from the world.

Art in The Age Of Automation, like Portico Quartet’s early discs, is an album to lie back and sink into

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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