Track: Portico Quartet’s gliding ‘Terrain II (edit)’ unveils a three-part suite of a new album in late May

Portico Quartet, photographed by Hannah Collins

PORTICO QUARTET, whose Jack Wyllie we last encountered in these pages at the end of last summer with his exhilarating Afro-ambient project, Paradise Cinema, reconvened at their East London base during lockdown, the events that swathe us necessarily informing the new music they began to fashion.

The world we all suddenly precipitated into necessitated a rethink of Jack and creative partner Duncan Bellamy’s approach; they took stock and found themselves drawn to longer, slowly unfolding pieces, full of air and light and nuance. And thus the three-part suite of new album Terrain, out on Gondwana Records on May 28th, was born.

And you can hear and edited single drop of the middle movement, “Terrain II”, below; a veritable glide of a piece, silk-smooth, all metronomic piano motif, string and sax coloration, a lightly skipping jazz break underpinning the flow; it unfolds into a more atmospheric neo-dissonance to conclude.

Jack says: “We’ve always had this side of the band in some form. The core of it is having a repeated pattern, around which other parts move in and out, and start to form a narrative.

“We used to do longer improvisations not dissimilar to this around the time of our second record, [2009’s] Isla. On Terrain we’ve really dug into it and explored that form.

“I suppose there are obvious influences such as American minimalism, but I was particularly inspired by the work of Japanese composer Midori Takada. Her approach, particularly on Through The Looking Glass, where she moves through different worlds incorporating elements of minimalism with non-Western instruments and melodies were at the front of my mind when writing this music.”

The three parts of “Terrain” subtly differ but all have their wellspring in a short, repeating motif. They share a journey, almost a motorik, but travel across different landscapes.

Jack continues: “There is a sense of conversation between us both, in that someone presents a musical idea, the other person responds to it with something else, which would then be responded to again … until it feels finished.

“These responses are often consonant with each other but there is also a dissonance to some of this work. The music slowly evolves through these shared conversations.” 

Portico Quartet’s Terrain will be released by Gondwana Records on May 28th digitally, on CD and on trad black and transparent orange vinyl; you can place your order now at Bandcamp.

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