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Portishead
Portishead (2017 Reissue)

Go! Beat

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About

Released 20 years ago in 1997, "Portishead" is clearly related to its predecessor: The more evident departures of the band’s 2008 third album Third and the confluence of songs from both albums on the 1998 live collection Roseland NYC Live have made it that much easier to group "Dummy" and "Portishead" together. The parallels run long and deep: breakbeats and thick bass, thoughtful guitar and even more thoughtful singer. Yet the proportions have changed. The prevalence of bass notes on Dummy created a sense of permanent suspension in liquid, as if the listener were tunneling through a heart, but with the exception of the gorgeous “Undenied,” Portishead showcases an act that no longer serves bass as it once did. The arrangements are drier, harder, more abrasive and more spare; air and solid are the album’s leading elements. Gibbons’s vocal language, likewise, has shifted: Though she always retains her composure, her tones are combative and bitter, accusatory and defiant. Her subjects are less cloaked in poetic elusiveness; she sings more frankly of concerns and troubles.

The album makes total sense, but how does it sound? One could argue that Portishead can be more admirable in theory than in practice. Created in direct opposition to the twinned principles of quick profit and easy pleasure, it’s a masterpiece of painful rigor. With the exception of “Undenied,” the album’s exhilarations, though plentiful, are inseparable from its harrowing politics and embattled nature. Utley’s riff on “Cowboys” is fit to saw through steel; Barrow’s beat on “Elysium” counts its measures with an alarming or bomb-adjacent urgency; Gibbons’s voice, shorn of comforting accompaniments, is charged with a kind of grievous purity throughout, reaching heights of agony unheard on "Dummy".

Though the fact is obscured by the 11-year gap between albums, it’s certain that Portishead paved the way for the even more deeply disturbed tone of Third (their best album) as much as it marks an extension of the sonics introduced in "Dummy". — (via Vulture)




Label: Go! Beat, Universal
Format: 2x Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, 180g
Country: Europe
Reissued: Jan 17, 2017 / Original Release: 1997
Genre: Electronic
Style: Trip Hop
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File under: Leftfield