Gondwana Records – August 25th
As first listens to Portico Quartet’s fourth album go, its soundtracking a midsummer train ride through southern England was more or less perfect. With the band’s trademark hang-drum chiming its watery melodies, the graceful sax forming vapour trails and deep grooves supplying momentum, green fields morphed into woods where sunlight broke the canopy and sparkled from rivers. Forgive the florid but Art in the Age of Automation is wilfully cinematic — a scenic union of ambient electro, turn-of-the-millennium chillout and blissful jazz, all meticulously crafted. From the nimble drumming to the rich layers of strings, no semiquaver goes unexamined. Some may find it a little too well-groomed, though anyone taking no pleasure in the hypnotic harmonics of ‘Beyond Dialogue’, fat electronics of ‘A Luminous Beam’, or symphonic opener ‘Endless’, would be cold-hearted indeed.
Live: Scala on October 19th