Radiohead’s 2001 album, Amnesiac, was recorded in the same sessions as their 2000 album, Kid A, which saw the group begin their exploration into a more electronic sound. It’s hard not to think about those albums when listening to the Portico Quartet’s 2018 album, Untitled (AITAOA #2), which was recorded in the same sessions as last year’s release, Art in the Age of Automation, though these albums are a return to form as opposed to a tonal divergence. Once again, this group has combined their electronic and jazz influences into something quite grand. To try to heap additional praise on them is to repeat more of the same of the ethereal brilliance they released in their last album.
Lead single “Index” gets to the crutch of things early, melding Bellamy’s always fascinating electronic tones (replacing that hang we all remember and love so much, but filling the spot so aptly one can hardly notice) and drumming, Fitzpatrick’s bass and and Vine’s keyboards providing the groundwork for Wylie’s saxophone to blossom. This melds perfectly into “Unrest” which is more subdued with Wylie’s saxophone less prominent, but making for a more general jam. This is certainly not the case with “View From A Satellite”, which expands into something so bold and spectacular, a brilliant crescendo that had feet moving so long ago that it’s a wonder where it swept up minds in the process.
This has been the group’s dynamic for some time, most certainly apparent in …Automation, but to have this additional from the same sessions gives more of an indication that this period of work has solidified this dynamic at this time and that it’s still quite a delight to hear. Portico Quartet has always had that sound that feels like it’s dance music that emerges from a fog. They’re the coolest band you can’t put a finger on. Hell, even they couldn’t name their latest album, relating it only as an untitled second part of the work that came before, itself a creation of its mechanical times. This is Portico Quartet’s untitled second collection of artistic work made using modern tools of this era. That’s the most accurate descriptor of these nine songs. Otherwise, everything else is subjective, like calling it dreamy or shiny, house music or jazz music or New Age. It’s always been hard to say, but it’s yet more proof of why Portico Quartet are always worth listening to.
Untitled (AITAOA #2), the fifth album from Portico Quartet, is out April 27th on Gondwana Records.
Duncan Bellamy – drums and electronics
Jack Wyllie – saxophones and keyboards
Milo Fitzpatrick – electric and double-bass
Keir Vine – keyboards
Check them out on their tour dates through Europe this spring & summer.
26 APRIL CBE – COLOGNE
27 APRIL LIDO – BERLIN
28 APRIL MOJO – HAMBURG
04 May REFLEKTOR – LIEGE
05 May CHELTENHAM JAZZ FESTIVAL
09 MAY E-WERK – ERLANGEN
10 MAY AMPERE – MUNICH
11 MAY GRELLE FORELLE – VIENNA
30 JUNE A LOVE SUPREME – GLYNDE
21 JULY FOLK FOREST – SHEFFIELD
20 OCT ROUNDHOUSE LDN – GONWANA 10
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.