Portico Quartet – Knee Deep In The North Sea

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COMPOSERS: Jack Wyllie
LABELS: Babel Vortex
PERFORMER: Portico Quartet: Jack Wyllie (saxophone), Duncan Bellamy, Nick Mulvey (hangs & percussion), Milo Fitzpatrick (bass)
CATALOGUE NO: Babel Vortex BVOR 2769

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This debut disc from Portico Quartet showcases the unique sound of this south London band. Theirs has been quite an ascent – from busking to having sync rights snapped up by MTV and Channel 4, and a commendation from Radio 1’s Gilles Peterson.

The tracks, which resemble ECM-style sound experiences, have a beguiling mainstream appeal. Title track ‘Knee Deep in the North Sea’ transports the listener to a ‘chilled’ audio realm, via the band’s use of two ‘hangs’.

Developed in 2000 in Switzerland, the instrument looks like an inverted steel drum and possesses the tonal qualities of a gamelan.

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Played by Nick Mulvey and Duncan Bellamy, who’ve developed a double mallet technique, these set an ethereal mood for each piece, and act in synergy with the bass of Milo Fizpatrick and swirling melodies of Jack Wyllie’s soprano sax. This unforgettable disc shimmers with brilliance.