PORTICO QUAR­TET

Sym­phonic elec­tron­ica in­stru­men­tal­ists fire on all four cylin­ders again.

Prog - - Intro - JS

hav­ing briefly re­moved the ‘Quar­tet’ part of their name af­ter the tem­po­rary de­par­ture of key­boardist Keir Vine, th­ese am­bi­ently in­clined Lon­don­ers have now read­opted their best-known mon­icker and sound more as­sured than ever on this fifth al­bum. Gor­geously brood­ing mid­night piano in­tro­duces Ob­jects

To Place In A Tomb, be­fore sax lines float smok­ily across it and stut­ter­ing drum’n’bass-ish beats add an un­easy edge. There’s a sim­i­larly widescreen feel to Current His­tory, evok­ing men­tal images of stoned ravers blearily watch­ing the sun rise on a Thai beach. For a band who built their rep­u­ta­tion on jazzy ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, they also cre­ate their fair share of ad­dic­tive hooks, al­beit of­ten stem­ming from a min­i­mal­ist musical tem­plate. The hyp­notic, dubby bassline of A Lu­mi­nous Beam is a case in point, and their char­ac­ter­is­tic use of a hand-made, steel drum-like Swiss in­stru­ment called the Hang brings Be­yond Di­a­logue to life with a sim­ple, cir­cu­lar mo­tif. And even if that al­bum ti­tle sounds like some­thing a bunch of post-punk noiseniks would have come up with on a trip to East Ber­lin in 1981, this is any­thing but a cold, emo­tion­less work. Au­to­mated it ain’t. Art­ful it most cer­tainly is.

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