Published Apr 02, 2015Portico Quartet are down a member and have dropped part of their name as a result, re-launching themselves simply as Portico. Their first release as a trio — Living Fields, on Ninja Tune — is touted as their debut by the band itself, and what's notable are the guest vocalists that appear on all but one of the album's nine tracks. Joe Newman (Alt-J), Jono McCleery and Jamie Woon all lend their talents on this darkly ethereal album, affording it variety but calling into question the viability of touring an album composed entirely of guest vocalists.
Living Fields is rich in its intimacy, enrobed in an ambiance that feels like a continuous pull towards a soundscape designed for dreams. An airy, tangible melancholy permeates its tracks, with synths crackling and disintegrating, percussive snaps, echoes and fills almost mimicking rain, and vocals melting and melding with instrumentation. Standout track "Atacama" (featuring Joe Newman) plays with stuttered percussion and a strangled yet subdued synth that coils itself until breaking point before releasing. Portico's first release as a trio is nothing short of moving. (Ninja Tune)