- Snow Ghosts
Tonight at The Kazimier, as a murmuring crowd assemble, SNOW GHOSTS amble onto the dimly lit stage and don their instruments. A three-piece, they comprise a keyboard-playing singer, a violin- and guitar-playing backing singer and a dude wielding a Kaoss pad. Their style meets the equilibrium between organic and modified sound as the delicate violin follows the lead of the propulsive electronic beats. Certain tracks seem a touch unfinished and disjointed. Not wholly lost in any way – there are glimmers of greatness, it’s just that they come across as disjointed and rushed. Other tracks, however, such as Circles Out Of Salt, are not just fully realised pieces of music but beautifully crafted songs. Unfortunately, their set comes to a lukewarm end and it feels as if this trio have a lot more to offer. Perhaps it just wasn’t their night.
Jazz may be one of the most transient names for any musical genre. Although the true values of jazz music are built on spontaneity, honesty and expression, the many different forms of jazz music throughout the ages have made the word jazz refer to little more than instrumentation. Of course, saxophones and cornets are the instruments that have become synonymous with jazz, but there are many acts that have experimented with a similar tapestry and attempted to weave in their own musical fabric.
PORTICO are one of those acts and, before the loss of their hang drum player Keir Vine, they were a Mercury Prize-nominated outfit that were associated with the term jazz and had released three albums that progressively challenged even that loose term. They ventured into the realms of electronica and trip hop while still employing the instrumentation and spontaneity that would see them fit loosely within the jazz genre.
Now, with their new album Living Fields, after dropping the moribund Quartet from their moniker, they have morphed into a trip hop troupe that has a unique identity of its own. As they start their set, they welcome guest vocalist Jono McCleery onto the stage to join them for a set of songs solely selected from their most recent album. Their new sound is reminiscent of modern Massive Attack and even slight hints of Aphex Twin and Mono; this is a new uniform for the former jazz act. The beautiful 101 makes an appearance alongside most of the other album tracks, such as the haunting Living Fields and Bright Luck. Duncan Bellamy, the band’s drummer, gives a standout performance as he charismatically and delicately drives a host of complex and textured beats into the set. Milo Fitzpatrick also proves himself to be a gifted multi-instrumentalist as he masters bass, guitar, backing vocals and synths throughout the show.
Although the band are a little static on stage and have very little interaction with the audience, their performance, at least sonically, is interesting and artistically stimulating. This is a refined new form that the boys in Portico are exploring, and, although some may despair about the lack of worldly percussion and saxophones in their new sound, it is an admirably brave move for them to have reinvented themselves in this contemporary fashion. This unique performance hints at the shape of things to come in the bright future for the new Portico.