Latest news » The three-piece Portico Quartet introduced their new electronic sound at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival earlier this week
When Portico Quartet took the stage on Bank Holiday Monday, the outfit who introduced the warm, chiming timbre of the hang drum to the Mercury Prize finals in 2008 will look and sound rather different. For a start, for half the set they will be the Portico Trio because this is the final gig of one of their two hang players, Nick Mulvey.
Nick is leaving the band to pursue a solo career as a singer-songwriter, and his departure has been a spur for change. Jack Wyllie, the saxophonist: "Now, there's more electronics, a lot of live manipulation of instruments that we developed when we were touring the last album, Isla."
The band's signature sound, the hang - a sort of hi-tech steel drum that looks like an upturned wok - will continue to feature in their music, but amid the increasingly electronic textures it will be sampled, morphing into tinkling arpeggios or deep, booming bass.
Portico Quartet, who are still in their fresh-faced mid-twenties, are one of new British music's less likely success stories, whose defiantly unclassifiable instrumental music has found enthusiastic audiences on the Continent.
"We're still trying to create a journey but we're using different routes," explains Milo Fitzpatrick, the bass player. "Hopefully, somebody out there is always going to like the music, whatever age or creed." As the band move from sunny musical climes to somewhere darker and stranger, they are about to find out.
(Edited from an article in The Times by John Bungey, 28 April 2011)