POR­TICO QUAR­TET Isla (Real World Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

The mem­bers of the U.K.-based Por­tico Quar­tet, ac­cord­ing to the group’s pub­lic­ity, are “a bunch of guys in their early 20s who play in­stru­men­tal mu­sic.” For Isla, the band’s sec­ond CD, the mu­si­cians worked with pro­ducer John Leckie (Sim­ple Minds, Ra­dio­head). The first track, “Paper Scis­sors Stone,” opens with a gen­tle heart­beat rhythm and de­vel­ops into a busy, bright mix of sax­o­phone ( Jack Wylie), bass (Milo Fitz­patrick), and per­cus­sion (Nick Mul­vey and Dun­can Bel­lamy). On “The Vis­i­tor,” af­ter some breathy elec­tron­ics and omi­nous notes from the bass, Wylie plays tenor in al­ter­na­tion with soft per­cus­sion clus­ters. Then — is that a game­lan? No, it’s Mul­vey on the large, bell-like hang, an in­stru­ment that fig­ures promi­nently in this band’s ear­li­est mu­sic-mak­ing. On the ti­tle track, a pen­sive hang­per­cus­sion in­tro flow­ers into a thick mu­si­cal mix­ture with Wylie on so­prano — the sax­o­phone voice is ever-present in this mu­sic, but Wylie doesn’t take so­los, as such. “Dawn Pa­trol” comes up in a loose ar­ray of tiny tin­klings; a rapid, sin­gle-note pi­ano pulse; and bass bends and thrum­ming — be­fore Fitz­patrick set­tles into a repet­i­tive four-note fig­ure as ground for Wylie’s sax search­ings, which range from plain­tive to wild. “Line” is a mul­ti­di­men­sional, ex­pand­ing wash of beau­ti­ful pi­ano rep­e­ti­tions, rem­i­nis­cent of Terry Ri­ley’s In C. There are few catchy melodies on Isla, but there is plenty of en­tranc­ing mu­sic, and, over­all, a mem­o­rable feel­ing. — Paul Wei­de­man

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