When Portico Quartet first appeared on the radar back in 2005, the buzz in the jazz community suggested this was the ‘gateway’ outfit – young, dashing, charismatic and melodic – that could turn a new generation on to skronk. Still, arguments raged as to whether or not the quartet’s output qualified as ‘real’ jazz. This self-titled third album settles that score once and for all, and the answer is no.
Although the band’s exceptional musicianship is still very much in evidence in the urgent clatter of ‘Ruins’, the overall mood and style has moved from being assisted by synths to being dominated by them. Borrowing from the likes of Warp’s avant-garde electro hip-hop star Flying Lotus and dubstep luminary Burial, PQ’s newest is a dark, melancholic, occasionally glitchy but overall melodically satisfying slab of sound-scapery that almost redeems the hateful term of IDM (‘intelligent dance music’). The record does suffer from its super-slick production, which makes even the most startling instrumental and compositional flights of fancy seem pedestrian, the same way CGI somehow doesn’t seem as impressive as stop-motion. This record is likely to win them a fair few new fans. Whether those fans will ever find their way into jazz is another question.