With Portico’s downsizing from a quartet to a trio, a pretty radical change in musical style has come about. Whereas before there was a pretty firm emphasis on jazz, they are now a fully-fledged electronica band – and ‘Living Fields’ is their striking new record. To express themselves fully the band have called in vocal favours from Jono McCleery, Alt-J’s Joe Newman and Jamie Woon, and all three make significant contributions to a record notable for its emotional intensity. McCleery’s contribution, ‘Bright Luck’, is especially notable for its almost religious devotion, while Newman’s vocals in ‘101’ and ‘Atacama’ especially are thoughtful and brooding. The band make widescreen, cinematic soundscapes that really stretch the music out, wringing maximum tension and emotion from their harmonies but still staying essentially private in their outlook. Moody and rather magnificent.
4 out of 5
Reviewed by Ben Hogwood