Art In The Age Of Automation
GONDWANA. CD/DL/LP Mercury Prize-nominated post-jazz quartet’s genredefying fifth album.
Restored to a four-piece after 2015’s Living Fields album, recorded as a trio, London’s Portico Quartet return with an ambitiously rejuvenated sound that, while still largely based on the part-ethnic, part cosmic sound of Duncan Bellamy and Keir Vine’s variously iterated Hang drums, is nothing if not capacious. Always navigating toward poignant, ineffably cinematic uplands by way of richlytextured, dub-infused electronica, urgent percussion and lavish, melancholy-tinged chamber orchestrations, Art In The Age Of Automation sits snuggly in the Venn diagram where latter-day Radiohead, Cinematic Orchestra, Polar Bear and Thomas Newman soundtracks overlap. Whether it’s opener Endless’s glitchy keyboard loop gradually ceding to clouds of dreamy woodwind and soaring phalanxes of strings, or Luminous Beam’s wonky, lo-fi drum groove being inexorably buried in gorgeous synth floes and stately clarinets, this is vaulting, widescreen soundscaping of the first water.