Por­tico Quar­tet

Art In The Age Of Au­to­ma­tion

Mojo (UK) - - News - David Shep­pard

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.

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