Knee-Deep In The North Sea
“A melodic accessibility and cinematic scope as liable to woo fans of Radiohead as patrons of Ronnie Scott’s” **** stars Q
In just a few short years, Portico Quartet has become one of contemporary music’s most lauded bands. Two pairs of child hood friends and still in their early twenties, the East London based group have created their own wholly unique music that draws on a world of influences from electronica, to world music, rock to jazz and the contemporary classical of Philip Glass and Steve Reich but remains inimitably their own. They have been compared to EST, Radiohead and even Cinematic Orchestra, while Time Out declared that Portico Quartet “Sound like nothing you’ve ever heard”.
Recorded in 2007, Knee-Deep In The North Sea was the band’s debut album and brought the already cult band to a wider audience when it was nominated for 2008’s Mercury Music Prize alongside the likes of Robert Plant, Laura Marling, Radiohead, Burial and eventual winners Elbow. Recorded while the band were still students and inspired by their experiences busking around Europe and at London’s South Bank, the album is a charming, joyous snapshot of a band finding their own unique voice. Recorded by Sonny at Livingstone Studios (where many of World Circuit’s greatest albums have been recorded) and produced by Portico Quartet, the band was seeking a naturalistic interpretation of their live sound: an organic palette of ethereal saxophone, clattery drums, otherworldly Hang and earthy double bass.
Inspired after recording their second album, Isla, with legendary producer John Leckie at Abbey Road, the band decided that while they still loved Knee-Deep they would welcome the opportunity to revisit the albums mixes again. The album was duly withdrawn from circulation earlier this year and the band invited John Leckie to remix it for a re-issue on the Real World label, also home to Isla. For this deluxe edition the band have also added three live tracks. The live versions of ‘Knee Deep in the North Sea’ and ‘Steps in the Wrong Direction’, both from the original album, were recorded in July this year at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival and demonstrate just how much the band have evolved in the past few years. The third bonus track is the previously unreleased ‘All The Pieces Matter’. Originally intended for inclusion on Isla, the band was unhappy with the studio recording and so it didn’t made the final cut. However, the live version recorded for Gilles Peterson’s Radio One Show at the BBC Maida Vale studios is the band’s favourite ever take of this enigmatic track and they are delighted to include it here for the first time.
"Floating somewhere between jazz and modern classical music, this young group make a strikingly original sound." The Times
“genuinely innovative.. there isn’t a band that sounds remotely like them…”
**** stars Observer Music Monthly