At this point in time Portico Quartet are somewhat elder statesmen in the world of British jazz. Long before acts like Ezra Collective and Nubya Garcia were forging their fresh new sound, the London group laid the groundwork with their harmonious brand of post-jazz. While their sound may be less raucous than that of the young guns, many of the current crop owe Portico Quartet a substantial debt.
The band’s fifth LP Memory Streams is another set of detailed contemporary fusions. Portico Quartet have always been a jazz group in spirit rather than sound, with their style drawing on neo-minimalism, hip-hop, 90’s electronica and post-rock. Indeed, only on a couple of occasions do the winds of Memory Streams blow in a similar direction to current jazz trends - the stirring ‘Double Helix’, for instance, a track which wouldn’t have sounded out of place slotted into one of Brownswood’s recent scene-surveying compilations.
By and large Portico Quartet go for something denser and prettier here. Kindred spirits include The Physics House Band, Rocketnumbernine and the more orchestral end of Floating Points’ output. Tracks like ‘Ways Of Seeing’ and ‘With, Beside, Against’ combine the widescreen reveries of post-rock with some almost spiritual qualities; ‘Offset’ (woo, woo, woo) steers close to 2000s Four Tet; ‘Memory Palace’ is a pristine contemporary classical piano composition in the Ryuichi Sakamoto mould.
Portico Quartet continue to plough their own furrow on their gorgeous new album Memory Streams.