Isla is a thoughtful and richly tuneful collection of nine pieces recorded by producer John Leckie at Abbey Road no. 2, a studio room made legendary by George Martin, the Beatles, Kate Bush and many others.
Leckie’s track record as a catalyst for emerging talent is legendary: not only for the famous examples, Stone Roses, Doves, XTC, Radiohead, but also for pioneering systems orchestra Lost Jockey (which spawned Man Jumping, ZTT’s Andrew Poppy, Orlando Gough, and soundtrack supremo John Lunn) and World Music stars such as Rodrigo & Gabriela and Papa Wemba.
Exotic and Hypnotic
If any group demonstrates the glorious eclecticism of the modern music fan it’s Portico Quartet. Based in east London, this twenty-something foursome display a knowledge of jazz, modern-classical, electronic and world music that would shame someone twice their age…The plaintive gamelan clang of the hang might still be central, but under the direction of producer John Leckie, and filtered through the venerable ambience of Abbey Road Studio Two, Isla feeds on Steve Reich mathematics, Radiohead dread, African desert grooves and ECM northern melancholy to travel into a new, chiming cavernous sound-world that is both exotic and hypnotic.
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Has jazz running through it’s veins
It’s apt that Portico Quartet used to jam in club chill-out lounges, since their soothing, hypnotic music has many of the same qualities of high-grade electronica. Richer and more rewarding than their Mercury-nominated breakthrough, Isla still has jazz running through it’s veins, based as it is largely around sax and double bass, but the London band have broader ambitions. The hang, an instrument vaguely akin to a steel drum, adds wisps of African flavour, and these nine instrumentals boast a melodic accessibility and cinematic scope as liable to woo Radiohead fans as patrons of Ronnie Scott’s.