Mercury nominated Portico Quartet returned earlier this year with a new lineup and a new sound. Renamed as just Portico, Jack Wyllie, Duncan Bellamy, and Milo Fitzpatrick move further away from the band’s jazz origins and towards an electronic sound with vocals. Their album ‘Living Fields’ is a record of catharsis and redefinition, born of a wish to create newness out of loss and change. You could also say that the band Portico themselves have undergone a process of ending and re-beginning. Portico makes music which moves forward towards distant places while offering rare intimacy as well, arriving somewhere between structured pop songs and a disintegrating ambience, a unique blend of the sublunary and the celestial. As far as the band are concerned this is a debut. There are three remarkable singers on this record: Jono McCleery, Joe Newman (Alt-J) and Jamie Woon. These are not just guest performances and it shows. Woon shared a house with Portico in East London when they were writing and recording the album that would become Isla and he was working on “Mirrorwriting.” Joe Newman is a childhood friend of Wyllie’s and Jono McCleery was introduced to Portico by Jamie Woon and has opened for them in the past. These existing relationships allowed for a consistency of thought and expression which makes this an impressive record. Some of my favourite tracks include “Living Fields”, “Atacama”, “Bright Luck” and “Memory Of Newness” to name a few. Overall the album is a solid 9 song journey into the current mind state of the trio.
The album is out on Ninja Tune now and you can grab yourself a copy via Bandcamp.