Boomkat Product Review:
Because of 'Trip Hop' and its unfortunate impact on popular culture back at the tail end of the last century, it's easy to forget just how innovative and daring bands like Portishead really were. Moreover, their 1994 debut album "Dummy" still sounds incredible, as long as you don't happen to catch a re-run of BBC 2's 'This Life' and all those questionable late night scenes soundtracked by "Glory Box" start ruining the mental image. It's arguable that Portishead were very much victims of their own success - it's not that their music ceased to be relevant, its just that all the things we associate with it are now consigned to parody and pastiche. It's quite remarkable, then, that after a 10 year absence Portishead released quite possibly the most beautifully edgy and f*cked up single of the year - "Machine Gun" employing relentless stabs and obliterated, regimented percussion that sound like nothing you'll have ever heard in your life without feeling laboured - quite a feat. Even more astonishing, their long awaited new album "Third" is littered with equally devastating moments, the music infused with a deep psych-ey aesthetic that's quite removed from the dusty sheen of their early material. "The Rip", for instance, manages to incorporate elements of Can's magnificent "Future Days", the motorik chug of early Kraftwerk and squashed synthwork that Harmonia would be proud of. "Hunter" is more haunting and ethereal, a wide pan of found sounds and plunderphonic soundtracking making for an ageless lullaby that evokes memories of Peggy Lee at one moment, and 60's psych-pop pioneers The United States of America the next - without pausing for breath. The album comes to a close on the magnificent "Threads" - a track that harks back to the classic Portishead template with a single extended string providing a backdrop to the pitter patter of gentle breaks, Beth Gibbons doing that thing she does so well over the top - before guitars and drums gatecrash proceedings for an epic crescendo that subsides almost as soon as it begins. It's a magnificent close to a truly remarkable album - no doubt one of the year's very best. Essential Purchase.