A sharp injection of energy...

In their most recent project, Portico Quartet cuts the ribbon and reveals their own personal ‘Monument’ - a precise and stylistically thought out album that feels like a controlled acceleration into better times. Although both ‘Monument’ and ‘Terrain’ were made in the space of six months, the albums are as different as night and day. If 'Terrain' is the stream of consciousness after three glasses of wine, 'Monument' is the sharp energy welcomed after a detox.

Opening dances into the heart of the piece with a feeling of arriving into a new state of being. ‘Impressions’ amplifies this state through fleeting electronic grooves that are captured amongst the intimacy of the driving saxophone, where tension builds between conflicting styles. The tension is at once conquered as ‘Ultraviolet’ allows both styles to flourish and compliment each other in continuous conversation.

‘Ever Present’ alleviates any form of stress in melodic reflection. A satisfying feeling of nostalgia with a healthy nod to the future. It seems something is realised and put to bed as the sun sets on the piano keys. ‘Gateway’ sleeps into a new day, the title track ‘Monument’: a direct sound of living, thinking and feeling, observed through looped vocals and drums whilst synthetically teased out. There is a running beat that breathes through ‘A.O.E’, sewing the cello and saxophone into a cross-stitch. The change of gear is magnified in the physicality of live drums and distorted measures of the saxophone and synthesiser.

‘Warm Data’ is a friendly reminder of Portico Quartet at home off duty. A familiarity sinks into the instrumental warmth and cosies up to the drums’ consistency. ‘On The Light’ is neither a finale nor a conclusion. It feels like the appropriate time to let go. The climax of skill and emotion collide in an intangible partnership between the drums and saxophone. Something is left behind yet not forgotten.

8/10

Words: Maeve Hannigan

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