words by Emma Rose

The London based band formerly known as Portico Quartet have officially left their jazz-roots behind and moved into the world of electronic soundscapes. Though they’d already dappled with live edits and remixes, the loss of Keir Vine their resident Hang and percussion player in August 2014, has truly completed their journey into indie-electronica. The transition from experimental folk-jazz songs to alternative electronic tracks has been seamless for the now-trio, maintaining the relaxed and rhythmic nature that has shaped their songs from the beginning. We are introduced into a new age of Portico where the beat and billowing synths are entwined with brilliant vocals. Featuring artists such as Alt-J’s lead man Joe Newman, Jono McCleery and Jamie Woon, the sound is fresh and expressive.

The EPs first song and title-track, ‘Living Fields’, introduces us to a world of dissonant synths, a thumping bass and haunting harmonies. The song sets a high standard but happily the rest of the record delivers. Joe Newman performs on two tracks, ‘101’ and ‘Atacama’ and brings to it his classic warm timbre that sent shivers down my spine. The track is decorated with an electronic synth-pop that is rhythmically interesting and expressive. Interestingly, they chose to feature one track, ‘Dissolution’, that is reminiscent of their original instrumental albums. The song is ambient and wistful, suggestive of the band’s transformation.

Overall, the EP has an interesting, experimental approach that is evocative and atmospheric. A praiseworthy achievement.

Rating: ★★★☆

Grab yourself a copy of Living Fields now through Ninja Tune.

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