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Portico Quartet - 'Portico Quartet'

by AlexJackson
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on 29 January 2012 in Albums & EPs
Record Label Real World Records
Rating 4/10
Most music fans, critics and passive record buyers first stumbled across this four-piece jazz band when they were included with a host of well-known bands in the 2008 Mercury Music Prize nominations. Then 'Knee-deep In The North Sea' was a beautiful work of warm, richly textured and very original jazz. They pretty much came from nowhere, but had arrived with something quite extraordinary. So it was all the more disappointing that follow-up 'Isla' couldn't repeat the trick and sagged far too often to warrant repeat listens. With difficult number three album arriving this month, the pressure was on to deliver an album which pushed boundaries or tried something different. In 2008 their mix of ethereal sounds and exotic beats were tasteful and enriching, but with hang drum player, Nick Mulvey departed, their sound is muddled, filled with samples and lacks substance. 'Window Seat' is barely audible, 'Steepless' with singer Cornelia Dahlgren stumbles by and only on 'Ruins' do they sound as exciting as they could and should be. 'City Of Glass' also tries to increase the quality, but too often here the record sounds too minimal and substance is elusive beyond belief. A great shame.

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