Boomkat Product Review:
On his panoramic first album in half a decade, Roly Porter turns speculative modern antiquarian, alchemising inspiration from neolithic burial sites into a ravishing mix of classical string orchestration, medieval vocals and elemental electronics.
First developed for AV performances with MFO at Unsound, Atonal Berlin, and Sonic Acts, ‘Kistvaen’ shapes up as Porter’s solo album follow-up to ‘Third Law’ for Tri Angle and marks distance travelled from his 2011 debut album, issued after cutting his teeth with Jamie Teasdale in dubstep duo Vex’d. Taking its title from the granite tombs found scattered across Dartmoor in England’s South West, the album in a concerted effort to look back and forward at the same time, creating a gulf of perspective between the “New Stone Age” and the Anthropocene that provides an absorbing framework for the grand scope of his sound designs.
The results are Porter’s finest-graded blend of tropes reaped from the fields of Black Metal, cinematic sound design, dark ambient and electro-acoustic music, mixed with the more mannered traditions of early medieval vocals and modern classical string arrangements. Working with singular vocalist Mary-Anne Roberts – from medieval Welsh music duo Bragod, Ellen Southern – of Bristol's Dead Space Chamber Music group, and Phil Owen – a singer and researcher in vocal traditions, the results range from wailing doom recalling Jani Christou and Ghédalia Tazartès in ‘Assembly’, to striking widescreen visions comparable with Jóhann Jóhannsson in ‘An Open Door’, and shoring up in the metaphorical waves of time that crash over closer ‘Kistvaen’.