Where do you start talking about a suite of recordings so concerned with the commonalities between beginnings and ends? You could start by saying that Living Fields is an album of catharsis and redefinition, born of a desire to create newness out of loss and change. You could also say that the band Portico themselves have undergone a process of ending and re-beginning, but none of this quite captures what you will hear.
The best thing you can do is listen. Portico make music which moves forward towards distant places while offering rare intimacy as well, arriving somewhere between structured pop songs and a disintegrating ambience, a unique blend of the sublunary and the celestial. Reverb drenched piano meshes with swathes of studio noise while vocals float high above a world of textural atmosphere.
Drum machines crisply puncture the air around shimmering arpeggios of synth and electric bass.You can be untethered, detached in space only for a moment of detail to rush into focus. Melancholia and euphoria sunk into each other. The effect is profoundly emotional without ever needing to emote.
Portico are Duncan Bellamy, Milo Fitzpatrick and Jack Wyllie. Previously they were three-quarters of the highly successful and critically-acclaimed Portico Quartet. But Living Fields is no continuation under a shortened name. As far as the band are concerned this is a debut.
There are three remarkable singers on this record:Jono McCleery, Joe Newman (Alt-J) and Jamie Woon. These are not just guest performances and it shows. Woon shared a house with Portico in East London when they were writing and recording the album that would become Isla and he was working on “Mirrorwriting.” Joe Newman is a childhood friend of Wyllie’s and Jono McCleery was introduced to Portico by Jamie Woon and has opened for them in the past. These existing relationships allowed for a consistency of thought and expression which makes this a truly remarkable record.
Where do you start talking about a suite of recordings so concerned with the commonalities between beginnings and ends? It doesn’t really matter so long as you listen.