Redbrick Meets... Portico | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Redbrick Meets… Portico

George Thomas catches up with Portico’s Jack Wylie

In the wake of Portico’s single releases of ‘Living Fields’, ‘101 (feat. Joe Newman)’ and ‘Atacama’, I spoke to one-third, previously a quartet, of the band. With the departure of Keir Vine from the band in 2014 the trio sought to find a new sound. Members Duncan Bellamy, Milo Fitzpatrick and Jack Wylie continue to write with a new direction. Portico drops the quartet and stands strongly as simply Portico. Wylie explains the story behind the name. During a performance in Italy several years back when the band remained nameless, their performance, being outside, was interrupted by an outbreak of rain forcing them to seek shelter under porticos. This attracted locals hailing them with the name ‘the porticos’. This they adapted to the fitting ‘Portico Quartet’. But as times have changed, they have adapted themselves to the solitary Portico.

Portico recently performed at the Village Underground in London to celebrate their upcoming album launch, and Wylie says it 'was a great success despite being pushed at rehearsal'. With a change in musical style I asked how people may (or may not) be adjusting to their new sound. He claimed that 'it’s expected for not all listeners to be into our sound' but he assured us that 'they’re more accepting'.

Portico’s new album Living Fields (released 6th April) features an array of familiar names including Jono McCleery and Jamie Woon however it is Alt-J’s Joe Newman who has attracted claims from Portico listeners stating that the latest style is a product of some sort of ‘Alt-J side project’. I asked Wylie how he felt about these claims, 'it’s almost an insult', he said, 'but it’s something you could expect with any band who collaborates. People get attached to a sound and personally identify with it'. Wylie assured me that Portico is in no way a ‘side project’.

Their blend of drum machines, synthesized saxophone, and electric bass offers a euphoria and assonance that cannot be simply described
As a recent discoverer of Portico and their unique, mesmerising sound, I had to ask where the ideas come from in creating such textural and hallucinatory music. The process is like 'going fishing, thinking, waiting about until something good happens' this can take up to a couple of days or weeks when 'building instrumental tracks, moving everything about, finalising and mixing' etc. Again as a recent discoverer, I found myself struggling to categorise or even describe the band to a friend. Their blend of drum machines, synthesized saxophone, and electric bass offers a euphoria and assonance that cannot be simply described. I gave Wylie this challenge. He describes the new album as a movement into 'instrumental, experimental textures that uses the structure of pop songs', he interjected to say how he might now sound pretentious, 'our music is somewhere between disintegrating ambiance and pop songs'.

I ask Jack where the motif of disintegration and decay stems from and he tells us that artists such as Jim Hekker and William Basinski serve as a 'terribly perfect source for inspiration'. The ways in which they 'manipulate and destroy textures of sound' is initially where the ideas of disintegration come from. Basinski, an American avant-garde composer, is known for his sound and visual artistry especially with his four-volume album The Disintegration Loops. Portico’s Living Fields shares in this avant-garde artistry providing listeners with an innovative and elusive musicality, one that will stun and capture you. With the release of Living Fields, and the tour kicking off on 18th April in Bristol, we are all in for a treat.

I'm studying English Literature and Italian at the University of Birmingham. I'm in my second year and am looking forward to studying abroad in hopefully Bologna or Padua next year. (@Gthomas3003)


11th April 2015 at 9:55 am

Last Updated

12th April 2015 at 4:55 pm