Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 08/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Probably like many in fall, 1997, I was eagerly awaiting the release of a new Portishead album. 1994s Dummy was so inventive, you wondered what the band would do next. I got the album.
Then, I made a big mistake. I listened to Portishead, the album, and though liking it, dismissed it as a copy of the first. Is it?
No! But the lesson I learned is when a band has a rich, deep sound, it pays to listen again and again and again. The rewards are all in the subtleties.
That axiom maxes out on this Portishead album. It turns out I was half right. In terms of songwriting, there is not a lot of difference between the two albums. But what changed is how much more dense the complications are on the second.
Portishead is like a small piece of iron. Pick it up and there is more weight than you can imagine. That holds more true on this album. Listen to the horns, clustered short and deep on "All Mine," amongst the fuzz guitar and booming drums and pulsing bass. There is more instrumentation here than on Dummy, thicker than you would ever think. The ability of Potishead to pack so much into little space is uncanny.
And so much into so dark a space: if Dummy had a despairing tone, this is downright depression--black insanity. Check out "Half Day Closing" with its plodding bass line, forward slowly in its minor blues torment. Vocalist Beth Gibbons whispers and whales, flangers popping on and off her voice. It is truly frightening.
So is most of this album, which is a quicksand of goth fear, samples, 1960s soundtrack allusions, all packed under your most painful finger nail. Listen once, listen a hundred times. The coil will unwind, slowly. Darkly"