archiv: portal

archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003

(Make Mine Music)

Strictly limited to just 100 copies via mail order, ‘Music for Broadcast’ features just under 50 minutes worth of docile like symphonies that will serve as the back drop for the forthcoming Broadcast Art Exhibition that is due to appear in Stafford, England next month.

Inspired by the paintings, sculptures and films previously utilized by Portal’s in past installations, ‘Music for Broadcast’ is noted for its shift in perspective, gone for now are the silken guitar symphonies and in their place absorbing brain melting electronic ambiences.

‘Music for Broadcast’ is essentially broken into three movements each acutely unique in sound from the other and each passively dreamy in texture, at the end of the day these are meant to act as background music so don’t expect anything too dramatic and threatening. Opening the set, the first movement takes almost an age to unfold, auspiciously grand it skirts with an ominous trance like flow that suggests E.A.R. reworking Laurie Andersons ‘Oh Superman’ before slowly being fattened out towards its conclusion by the delicate brushing gentle celestial washes that drift hauntingly.

Movement 2 is slightly more playful and buoyant though nonetheless equally hypnotic and slow to spark. Opening to the sound of minimalist drone textures it’s a full five minutes before the lonesome whirring hum dynamic mutates into something more pliable with the onset of treated bells being lightly utilised in the foreground and deliciously set off against the echoing accompaniment of softly shivering ripples of harp like melodies which had me partly recalling Angus Maclaurin, curiously the more the melodies expand and grow the greater the sense of eeriness throughout becomes apparent until towards the finale all the individual components collide into one to create a doom laden, yet stately funereal gloss to the proceedings.

Movement 3 is the best cut of the set, richly worked; it’s a full-bodied score with cinematic pretensions beneath which a dramatic interplay is at large. Tides of glacial waves are sweetly prickled by teasingly docile string arrangements, the melodies classically orientated curvaceously fold and twist with a subtle sensuality while all the time maintaining an aloof distance and morose identity, all at once enigmatic and haunting, spellbinding stuff. All in all a beautifully composed score and sweetly enchanting with it.

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