Defying Automation: An Interview with Portico Quartet


Since their formation in 2005, Portico Quartet have been a band of many guises. Initially centring their sound around jazz-folk influences and the soft, rhythmic repetition of the hang drum, their 2007 debut LP Knee Deep In The North Sea earned them a Mercury Prize nomination for its quietly intricate, yet expansive compositions. Over the last decade, the Quartet have released two more records, 2009’s Isla and 2012’s eponymous work, both delving deeper into the intersections of the electronic and acoustic, moving away from the etymological weight of the ‘jazz’ genre and inhabiting a new space between the ambience of the concert hall and the introspective intensity of the club.

With a brief reshuffle to form the trio Portico and make 2015’s Living Fields, a Ninja Tune effort which highlighted the core members’ dancefloor influences, the Quartet have now reformed to produce their fourth LP, Art In The Age Of Automation. A mature work of modernist jazz-electronic fusion, over its eleven instrumental tracks the LP muses on the confluence of the human and mechanic, as conjured by its title.

We spoke with saxophonist Jack Wylie and drummer Duncan Bellamy – who designed the album artwork under his Veils Project moniker – about the current jazz resurgence, the group aesthetic, and staying sane on tour.

Read the interview in Clash Magazine.

[This piece was published on 08/08/17]