Portishead – Humming To test refinement
Darker and more disturbed/disturbing than debut album Dummy, Portishead’s eponymous second album would be happier on the mortuary slab than the coffee table. Which, one must assume, is exactly how the band wanted it.
A disparate collection
The treble elements of Humming aren’t all that numerous, but each is a stern test of your system’s top-end refinement. That undercurrent of vinyl surface noise (plus some scratching), the hi-hat that sounds like the mic is a nanometre from the cymbal itself, the keyboard-derived theremin sound, the sibilants in Beth Gibbons’ vocal, what sounds like someone attempting to tune a long-wave radio – each has the potential to veer into unpleasant and unwanted coarseness. How well your set-up controls them will impact significantly on the tune’s tension.
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