Monday, April 07, 2008

The lost and found souls... Portishead 3

On the face of it a studio album from a band that formed in 1991, and only the third including their ground-breaking first, Dummy, in 1994 might suggest a band that has reformed simply for the money. Given that this is Portishead such cynicism is best taken with a pinch of salt for the band are as ethereal and invisible as they are influential. They may have tasted fame, and possibly fortune too, but they do what they do, occasionally and only when it takes their fancy. Then again they invented what they do, so they choose to leave time between their dark and slightly disturbing trip-hop forays in which others can play catch-up. It is simply their choice but woe betide any that think they can beat Portishead at their own game, but eleven years is still an inordinate wait for a new Portishead album!

You can probably tell I'm looking forward to this release, due out on April 28 in the UK on both CD and vinyl (2 x 12" 33rpm), and it is true.

Portishead 3

Should you not already be aware of it then I highly recommend the 2002 album Out Of Season. The 21st century has seen a whole lot of seemingly improbable yet amazing collaborations and amongst them is Ballad Of The Broken Seas (Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, 2006), but this earlier one is equally remarkable.

Out of Season (2002) was Beth Gibbons gone mostly acoustic, which really shows what a good singer she is. It is a collaboration with "Rustin' Man", the alter ego of Paul Webb who was the bassist in 1980's band 'Talk Talk'. That this is true is testament to collaboration beyond the reasonably imaginable. Adrian Utley (also of Portishead) provides some guitar and production but this is not much like either band.
Does it work? You bet it does!
Is it more cheerful than Portishead? No, not really, and when very occasionally it leans towards the electronic that is especially true.

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