The last time we saw Portico Quartet play in Berlin was at the Jazz Keller in 2009. The band created a dreamy atmosphere with their signature hang accompanied by the double bass, saxophone and drums. It was clear to see why the band had been nominated for a Mercury in 2008 and reached such a wide audience, with their playful and in part ethereal take on jazz, taking the genre into an accessible place with airplay on BBC Radio 2 in the UK and multiple festival bookings.
Two weeks ago at a packed .HBC the scene was somewhat different, the same diverse audience, but a less dreamy-sounding Portico Quartet. Playing music solely from their latest album it was clear from the off the band had new intentions, with looping devices attached to the double bass, drum kit and saxophone, which allowed for tempos more identifiable with house music than jazz. At points the bands ability to multitask was mystifying, with new member Keir Vine alternating between the hang, keyboard and MPC and drummer Duncan Bellamy simultaneously playing both his drum kit plus an array of digital drums. The band’s move towards an electronic uptempo sound feels like a natural one. As proven by their earlier albums, these four boys are exceedingly talented musicians, allowing them to undertake a new direction with utter confidence.
We have selected three of our favorite tracks which we feel will lend well to a Berlin ear.