Portico Quartet: reshaping jazz
The London group are back and experimental as ever with their latest album.
“For better or worse”, says Duncan Bellamy, the drummer from Portico Quartet, “we have always been a group that’s quite isolated from others. We’ve never really felt linked to any scene since the day we began making music.”
Since their formation in 2005, the British group have always occupied a unique space in the “young British scene”, a kind of catch-all marketing term. Spotted by Peter Gabriel who signed them to his label Real World, the group attracted the spotlight with their jazz that was infused with post-rock, ethnic influences and repeated sounds, using the technological evolution as one of the cornerstones of their project. From Radiohead to the label ECM, from E.S.T. to Steve Reich, and even exploring Burial-style dubstep and Brian Eno’s ambient sounds, Portico Quartet have never been faint-hearted.
True to form, Memory Streams is rooted in these values and influences without ever being samey. For the saxophonist Jacky Wyllie, this fifth album “represents, more than any other album before him, the identity of the group and it embodies the memory of the trajectory taken over the past twelve years.”
It’s an identity that revolves around the fascinating combination of a saxophone and a “hang” - an acoustic percussive instrument born in Switzerland in 2000. The mysterious mix of these two instruments combines an unparalleled lyricism with a solid rhythm. With Memory Streams, which has been released on the brilliant Mancunian label Gondwana Records, Portico Quartet’s inspired virtuosos stay on course so as to refine their unique sound and musical identity.