Where Animal Collective’s skewed strands of experimental indie typically fall sunny side up, Portner’s solo mindset invites the dark clouds to creep on. On his inward-facing solo debut, 2010’s ‘Down There’, Portner let the darkness seep in and the demons play out, those album tracks hanging heavy with black atmospheres and brooding weight.
His dabbles with darkness are nothing new, and it’s little surprise that this next project points towards more explicitly blood-soaked imagery and Hitchcock-like tension. What is surprising is that ‘Enter The Slasher House’ isn’t the creepy horror show its title suggests.
With Dirty Projectors’ Angel Deradoorian and former Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman completing the line-up, Portner’s penchant for the ominous and his determination to create something that “comes from a place that’s not human” is largely restricted to the melodrama of the band name and album title.
Recorded live, it’s an album of scuzzy guitar and swirling melodies best showcased by the busy Animal Collective-meets-Dirty Projectors all-in of ‘Duplex Trip’ and the Perry Farrell-recalling Bash Street carnival spirit of ‘Blind Babe’.
Elsewhere, ‘That It Won’t Grow’ hits with the energy and guitar scuzz of ‘Fuzzy Logic’-era Super Furry Animals, and ‘Catchy (Was Contagious)’ is a garbled grab bag of calypso rhythms and random voice disguise that carries only the slightest ethereal menace.
More cheap carnival ghost house than behind-the-sofa bloodbath, ‘Enter The Slasher House’’s flickers of spooky dynamism never feel more than a random séance. Enjoyable, but some’ll always believe in it more than others.
Words: Reef Younis
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