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Portico Quartet – Knee-Deep In The North Sea (Deluxe Version)

Portico Quartet, Knee-Deep In The North Sea (Deluxe)

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IN JUST a few short years, Portico Quartet has become one of contemporary music’s most lauded bands.

Two pairs of childhood friends and still in their early twenties, the East London based group have created their own wholly unique music that draws on a world of influences from electronica, to world music, rock to jazz and the contemporary classical of Philip Glass and Steve Reich but remains inimitably their own. They have been compared to EST, Radiohead and even Cinematic Orchestra.

They first hit the headlines following the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album, Knee Deep In The North Sea in 2007, which was nominated for 2008’s Mercury Music Prize along with Robert Plant, Laura Marling, Radiohead, Burial and eventual winners Elbow.

And they went from strength to strength with sophomore LP, Isla, which found them working with legendary producer John Leckie.

Now, they’ve decided to re-issue their debut Knee Deep LP in a remixed format on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label having reunited with Leckie once more.
The ensuing album also contains some bonus tracks, including live versions of Knee Deep in the North Sea and Steps in the Wrong Direction, which were recorded in July this year at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival.

A third bonus track is the previously unreleased All The Pieces Matter live… a track that was originally intended for inclusion on Isla, but which never made it as the band was unhappy with the studio recording. However, the live version recorded for Gilles Peterson’s Radio One Show at the BBC Maida Vale studios is the band’s favourite ever take of this enigmatic track and they are delighted to include it here for the first time.

The ensuing album really does underline their talents as a contemporary jazz act with dibs on other genres. It’s relaxing, inspiring, chilled out and a great listen, whether as the backdrop for a Sunday afternoon appreciation listen on the sofa, or the backdrop of a dinner party.

The live tracks, meanwhile, show just how expansive and enjoyable they are live… assured, ambitious and growing in stature with each new show.

So, if you like the jazzier elements of acts like Bonobo with touches of Peterson and some other jazz greats thrown in for good measure, then this is an accomplished and extremely satisfying listen with New From Verona, (Something’s Going Down On) Zavodovski Island, Steps In The Wrong Direction and that live version of All The Pieces Matter among the many highlights to savour.

Download picks: News From Verona, (Something’s Going Down On) Zavodovski Island , Steps In The Wrong Direction, All The Pieces Matter, Monsoon: Top To Bottom, Cittagazze

Track listing:

  1. News From Verona
  2. (Something’s Going Down On) Zavodovski Island
  3. Knee-Deep In The North Sea
  4. Too Many Cooks
  5. Steps In The Wrong Direction
  6. Monsoon: Top To Bottom
  7. The Kon Tiki Expedition
  8. Cittagazze
  9. Pompidou
  10. Prickly Pear
  11. All The Pieces Matter (live)
  12. Knee-Deep In The North Sea (live)
  13. Steps In The Wrong Direction (live)