Live / Remix

Portico Quartet, 2013

Portico Quartet bring their powerful live performance to record. Drawing on the inspiration of electronica, ambient, classical and dance music, they take their strange, beautiful, cinematic, future music to exciting new vistas. Live/Remix is a double album offering a unique insight into two distinct parts of the band's personality.

Live catches the band on tour in 2012 and features tracks from last year's eponymous album, Portico Quartet, as well as new arrangements of old favourites 'Clipper' and 'Dawn Patrol'. The hard won collective empathy that is at the heart of their sound remains the primary touchstone as Portico Quartet take the listener on a journey into the heart of their inimitable electro-acoustic-ambient music. Delivered with a powerful punch, the album adds that extra drive and energy honed over years of live performance, and many pieces appear in dynamic new arrangements. East London based Swedish singer Cornelia joins for a truly epic version of their track 'Steepless'.

Remix, curated by Portico Quartet, features mixes of their music by some of the band's favourite producers and DJs. Will Ward (1/3 of electronica outfit Circle Traps and a producer in his own right) keeps the ambience of 'Window Seat' but morphs it into a slow techno burner. SBTRKT, who did a mix for PQ back in 2010 - just before he went on to enjoy global success - gives a UK garage swagger to Line from the band's previous album Isla. Luke Abbott, well known for his use of analogue synthesisers, sticks almost entirely to the original recorded parts contorting 'Rubidium' into a fresh kaleidoscopic groove. Scratcha DVA, perhaps best known for hosting Rinse FM's grimy breakfast, but also a prolific DJ and producer in his own right, drags 'Laker Boo' into a darker, bassy more urban place that suits the tune's hypnotic vibe. LV take 'City Of Glass' to the dance floor. The sax has been twisted into new hooks and melodies and set against the drums, giving the tune some serious welly. Last summer the band ran a remix competition on Soundcloud for the track 'Steepless', and Capac came out on top from over 300 entries, sitting the vocal against a beautiful field recording, giving it an extra layer of intimacy and subtlety. Konx-om-Pax is a phrase purportedly used in the Eleusinian Mysteries and used by Aleister Crowley for his Essays on Light published in 1907. It seems fitting then that the producer should remix '4096 colours', a piece in which a recording made in front of Gerhard Richter's famous stain glass window was used as the backdrop and inspiration for one of Portico Quartet's most evocative tracks. Berlin is one of the band's favourite cities and Luca Lozano fronts the highly respected Berlin label Klasse records and is a regular DJ at Berghain. His take on 'Laker Boo' comes straight from the Berlin dance floor. Finally the album closes with the band's own enigmatic low key synth based remix of 'Steepless'.

Reviews

  • With one foot in the conservatoire and one in the club on their last eponymous album... ...London jazz group Portico Quartet move further towards the latter with excellent remixes from SBTRKT and LV amongst others. But the accompanying live album also reveals more of the rhythmic cogs whirring beneath their scintillating soundscapes. DJ Mag (UK)
  • Instrumental avant-jazzers move into electronica but hold onto their soul. In the first instance, sax and their trademark hang set a mood of deliciously melancholy contemplation. The ...even the most synthesised moments here sound natural and unforced. They know exactly where they're going... Q Magazine (UK)
  • There aren't a whole bunch of bands out there like Portico Quartet. ...the performance is staggering, the ambience and atmosphere touching and the musicianship impressive to say the least. Shout4music.com ((Live from Koko, London 17th April 2013))
  • ...their super chilled melodies are infectious... (hang) adding more understated colour to a new trance-like textual soundscape that puts ambient electronica on an equal footing to live acoustics. CD2 is remixes likely to please Gilles Peterson show-listeners and nu-jazzers with a pick of the band's favourite producers and DJs turning the recording on its head with stripped-down textures, blasts of analogue and clubby beats. Jazzwise Magazine (UK)
  • ...soothing the soul. Portico Quartet appear, or rather seem to materialise from nowhere, and slowly build their enchanting web of sound; gentle rhythms and keys filling KOKO and stopping anyone leaving for the bar. This is trance music, but not in the traditional sense, this is actual music to cause trances. Sharing DNA with the likes of The Cinematic Orchestra, Bonobo and Four Tet, the Portico boys differ by lowering the epic levels and rather going for a late night vibe, a positive repetition that mixes various textures and audio flavours. There is an organic root to their sound, a jazz background that when mixed with subtle samples, sax, pedals and steel drums ends up just soothing the soul. theclashmusic.com (Live from Koko, London)
  • ...they've developed a textural palette ...and in the process taken their emotional clout to another level. ...sweeping big-venue confidence and charisma...with a rare balance of studio-like clarity and audience presence. Steepless, delivered by Cornelia here with a fragility (clustered around by her own church-like echo) that swells to soulful cries, represents some of the most memorable moments of a memorable set. The Guardian (UK)
  • Portico Quartet proves that jazz-influences don't always have to turn into clich├ęs. Like no other, they manage to build futuristic soundscapes based on sheer inventively instead of virtuosity. With bands from our own latitude...following in their wake, no doubt you'll hear more of this kind of music in the coming years. Quote from Victor-Jan Goemans, SkylineReviews (Netherlands)
  • The sound of a band that is still developing and moving forward. Amazingly PQ have expanded their fan base as their music has taken on increased layers of sophistication. The Jazzz Mann (Online)
  • ...now with a live and remix double album, the foursome are showing exactly how eclectic and diverse they can be. Powerful live performances have led the band to conquer new musical territories with blistering results. It's mesmerising from the opening cord of Window Seat... If you love modern jazz, you'll love this album and this band. If you love ambient-electro, you'll wonder why you dismissed Portico Quartet as merely a jazz band. This album shows the world exactly what the Quartet are about - they can't be pigeon-holed and won't disappoint live. With their upcoming gig at Camden's Roundhouse on 17 April, they're sure the blaze another trail and possibly head towards another Mercury nomination. And this album gives us a sneak preview of what audiences can expect. 8/10 Subba-Cultcha (Online)
  • All told, this is a strong offering from Portico Quartet... ...hugely satisfying in live form and intriguing and sometimes hip in remixed form. In other words, a successful package. 4/5 Indie London (Online)
  • ...something quite special. Fusing electronics with near classical levels of composition, their's is a music which takes inspiring liberties with sound, texture and form. The live portion...is something quite special. On record, deeply composed and cerebral, Portico Quartet really come to life in front of an audience. Allowing their music to spill out, to spiral out into new shapes, contortions, the band's improvisationary techniques mean that every show is quite unique. Clash Online (UK)
  • ...killer cut is Konx-om-Pax's mesmeric re-jigging of 4096 Colours. ...though the hang is present on early tracks such as Clipper and Dawn Patrol - which are superbly rendered here - elsewhere there's great emphasis on electronica and effects. ...their sound seems delicate and ethereal, in a live setting the quartet's music yields plenty of compelling sonic drama. MOJO Magazine (UK)
  • Portico Quartet return with a double dose of electro-acoustics... ...Live/Remix gives the listener a relevant insight to both sides of the Mercury Music Prize nominees' sound. Echos Magazine (UK)
  • Gloriously lithe and funky... (Portico Quartet : Line SBTRKT remix) reworking from the ambient electro-jazzy dudes' new remix album. Metro (UK)
  • ...consistently inventive...full-on electro-acoustic soundscapes... Whether Portico Quartet ever were a jazz act is debatable, but they certainly don't sound like one now. The live stuff is consistently inventive, with percussive bleeps partnered by snaky melody lines to produce full-on electro-acoustic soundscapes that work as immersive environments more than tunes. The Independent (UK)