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Reply #45 on: March 18, 2008, 10:25:15 AM

best usb ever?
context, context, context.


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Reply #46 on: March 18, 2008, 10:29:20 AM
That's sweet. White stripes had a great S.E. and awesome USB's.

I still haven't heard the new album. I'm dying, but I'm not going to give in until I can get it in FLAC. If I can't by the time it's released, I'll just buy the CD.
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Reply #47 on: March 31, 2008, 12:30:35 AM
Portishead Ready To Unveil Third, Promise Fourth LP Won't Take A Decade To Make
Multi-instrumentalist Adrian Utley surprised by fans' excitement over album, which comes out April 28.
By Chris Harris; MTV

The last time Bristol, England, trip-hop visionaries Portishead released a full-length studio album was back in 1997, when artists — and the music industry, as a whole — didn't lose sleep over the possibility of their work prematurely leaking to millions of illegal downloaders several weeks ahead of their LP's commercial release. A lot can happen in 11 years.

"We definitely weren't expecting that," Portishead multi-instrumentalist — and founding member — Adrian Utley said of their new album's leak, in an interview with MTV News last week. "And we're definitely pissed about it. But I suppose there's nothing you can do about it. We know how it leaked, and I would love to tell you, but I can't. You can only hope that it's not going to f--- everything up for you, because I think, in this world, there are downloaders and people who buy. I don't know if you can convince downloaders to buy. If we don't sell records, we can't make any more records. We're just not rich people."

What Utley doesn't realize, though, is that — like Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy — Portishead's Third may be one of the most anticipated records of the last decade. Eleven years is a long time to wait, so it was never a question of if, but rather when the record would hit the Net. And in all sincerity, Utley's sort of oblivious to the rabid demand for Third, which finally lands in stores April 28.

"We were just in Paris and Berlin doing some television shows, and when we took the stage, there was the hugest cheer — it was really affirming," Utley explained. "When you're in the studio you have the Internet, so you sort of sense what's going on to some extent. But we'd see each other every day, and we'd talk about biscuits or tea or politics, music — we didn't really talk about the outside world or the world's perception of us very much. We've just started to sense it now."

And while fans the world over may be ecstatic for new Portishead material, Utley said the band is not quite as psyched. They're just happy to be back on the scene with an album that, in the opinion of this writer, is deserving of the wait.

" 'Excited' is not something that we ever get, really," he said. "I'm excited that you're excited, and that's good enough. I'd have to say that my own relationship with [Third] is complex, and I don't know that it will ever be resolved. The same thing happened with [1994's] Dummy. I've never listened to it. I've never listened to Portishead, and I'll probably never listen to Third again. I don't mean that in a bad way, but once you've done it, it's out in the world for other people to hear. I am proud of what we've done, but the flame burns so brightly when you're making it, that it's almost like being sick — you don't want to revisit it if you don't have to."

In the time since Portishead's release, singer Beth Gibbons went off to record a solo album, 2002's Out of Season, and Utley and instrumentalist Geoff Barrow worked on several other projects as well. Portishead had always planned on recording a third set, but now that they've all started families, it took them a lot longer to get cracking on the tracks.

"There was no sense that we weren't ever going to do a record again," Utley said. "Geoff and I had already started working on the stuff earlier on, I'd say around 2001. So we always knew we were going to do it, but we wanted to do other stuff, too. We'd grown exhausted with what we were doing, and we were touring almost nonstop since Dummy. We couldn't take care of all the other aspects of our lives. It's quite exhausting in the end, so we wanted to do other things, but we didn't want to not do Portishead."

When Utley and Barrow first started throwing ideas around for Third, they "didn't feel right — it wasn't happening really." So they decided to take a few more years to think about what they wanted to do with the record and reconvened in 2004. "And that's when we wrote the track 'We Carry On.' That was the beginning of a new us, really. That's when we thought, 'OK, this is going to work now.'

"But it's never prolific and easy," Utley continued. "It always just takes a long time, and it's just particular to us working together, because if we work outside of this context, we can work a lot quicker. For us, every track has to live somewhere — it has to have a world that it's going to live in, rather than just being a song straight away."

The problem the band originally faced back in 2001 was that, while they wanted to retain some semblance of their signature sound, the songs they were working on sounded, well, not like Portishead at all, Utley said.

"This other stuff that we did didn't work earlier on, because it wasn't right," he said. "It didn't sound like us, if you like. You might have thought it was us, but it didn't feel like it was us. One of our rules is, we don't want to repeat what we've done before, and I imagine a lot of people are like that. We couldn't possibly go back to doing a 'Glory Box,' or doing a 'Strangers' or doing a 'Cowboys.' It's done. So that was one of the hard things — we had to find a new voice but retain that old voice as well, and be relevant. We wanted to incorporate some of the influences we've had since [Portishead], and I think we've done that."

Unfortunately, aside from their appearance at next month's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Portishead don't plan on touring the States at all — not this year, or the next. And Utley is "deeply sorry for that." But if the band were to do an extensive tour, that would make the wait for the band's fourth record that much longer.

"To do a massive tour at the moment would be a folly, I think," he said. "If we do a year of touring again, we won't want to see each other for a while. It won't be another 10 years, I swear. Man, it's just that life passes so quickly, and you get home and do other things and you try to enjoy your life. We've got children now, and we just wanted to live life, rather than being slaves to this career, if you like. It's not like we've gone off and spent time having children and just doing nothing but that, but time just goes by like that. We finished the album late last year, and it's springtime already."
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Reply #48 on: April 11, 2008, 12:25:51 AM
Portishead perform tracks from 'Third'

Portishead in Portishead airs exclusively on www.portishead.co.uk on 11th April at 11pm (GMT) - the band will be performing 7 tracks from the new album 'Third'. To view this you will have to sign up. Your information will be kept by Portishead and not passed on to a 3rd party so we advise signing up early if you haven't already done so to avoid frustration at 10.55pm.

After the 40 minute programme airs on the bands site it will be broadcast on Current TV.
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Reply #49 on: April 13, 2008, 12:29:12 AM

After a Decade Away, Portishead Floats Back
By JON PARELES; New York Times

GEOFF BARROW has an objective for his band, Portishead. He wants it to be “the opposite of rock ’n’ roll,” even if he hasn’t entirely figured out what that is. After all, it was a taste of the rock ’n’ roll life that made Portishead disappear for a decade while the band’s otherworldly mixture of modern dread, retro samples and torch-song yearning lingered on soundtracks and boutique playlists.

On the two morosely startling albums that made Portishead’s reputation when it came out of England in the 1990s, Beth Gibbons’s voice and words were bereft and bitter, floating in music that placed vintage samples in sparse, echoey backdrops, conjuring emotional abysses and the irrevocable passage of time. The band itself was self-effacing, but word of mouth, from introvert to introvert, worked as much as radio play to cultivate devoted fans. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Portishead’s debut album, “Dummy,” sold 1.1 million copies and its second, “Portishead,” sold 635,000. Then, after touring and a live follow-up album, Portishead faded out.

Now Portishead has rematerialized, resuming a career that has always moved in slow motion. “It’s amazing how quickly 10 years can go,” said Adrian Utley, who plays guitars and keyboards, over coffee at an elegant Munich hotel the night before the band’s performance. “There was no sense that we would split up or we weren’t going to do anything again. We just didn’t want to for that time.”

This month Portishead is touring Europe and making an April 26 appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California. (Those will be its only concerts for the rest of 2008, for “personal reasons,” Mr. Barrow said.)

And on April 29 Portishead releases "Third" (Mercury/Island), its third studio album and the sequel to “Portishead,” from 1997. “Third” is more polymorphous, more extreme, more propulsive and often harsher than previous Portishead albums. Instead of mellowing with age or returning to a signature sound, the band has fractured and splintered that sound, plunging even deeper into loneliness and anxiety.

“Third” is unlikely to become fashionable background music; it’s too bleak, too daring, too exposed. As if alluding to the band’s 10-year absence, the first song on the album is called “Silence.” Ms. Gibbons sings, “Empty in our hearts/Crying out in silence/Wandered out of reach/Too far to speak.”

Portishead — named after a coastal town near Bristol, where Mr. Barrow lived as a teenager — coalesced in the early 1990s, when Bristol emerged as the home of what would soon be called trip-hop: hazy, moody, late-night songs that blurred the desolate and the sultry. Mr. Barrow worked as a tape operator — making tea and getting sandwiches, he said — at the studio where Massive Attack, Bristol’s brooding R&B band, was recording with the rapper and trip-hop pioneer Tricky.

Between sessions for Massive Attack, Mr. Barrow assembled his own music, playing drums and using the hip-hop techniques of sampling, looping and scratching. But his music ended up a world away from the street or the dance floor.

Mr. Barrow found a musical partner in Ms. Gibbons, who had been singing Janis Joplin songs in pubs and would become Portishead’s lyricist and main melody writer. Partway through the making of “Dummy,” released in 1994, they brought in Mr. Utley, who had been what he calls a “skint” — which means barely getting by — jazz guitarist.

They were an unlikely alliance, disparate in age (Mr. Utley is now 50, Mr. Barrow 36 and Ms. Gibbons 43) and inclinations. But Mr. Utley and Mr. Barrow are both down-to-earth musicians.

“They’re both skilled in opposite ways, but it works,” said James Skelly of the Coral, whose 2005 album, “Invisible Invasion,” was produced by them. “Ade tries all sorts of different stuff and sounds, and you could be there all day and every sound would be great. Geoff would come in and say, ‘That’s the sound.’ ” Meanwhile, although Ms. Gibbons’s lyrics are wounded public confessions, she is so painfully shy that she dodges interviews. The refrain of the album’s closing song, “Threads,” is “I’m always so unsure.” (In a brief hello at the Munich sound check, she fretted that she might forget lyrics during the concert.)

“Beth said the other night that the reason that she actually started singing was because of her inability to communicate,” Mr. Barrow said. “Since she’s done it, people think that she’s communicating, but it’s made her ability to communicate even worse on a human level.”

Mr. Utley and Ms. Gibbons were used to club gigs; Mr. Barrow is a studio creature who gets no pleasure from performing live. “I’ve never liked it, and I never will,” Mr. Barrow said. “I don’t feel any connection between me and the people listening to it. I way prefer to release records and have my connection be like that.”

What the three members of Portishead share is a methodology: building each song around what Mr. Barrow calls “a sonic world,” often just a texture. “We are very much magpies,” he said. “We really like to hear stuff that blows us away, and then we like to do our own version of it, but I think we put it together in a weird way and it sounds like us.”

Talking about “Third,” Mr. Barrow and Mr. Utley cited Black Sabbath, Sonic Youth, Kraftwerk, Ultravox, the hip-hop producer Madlib, the Viking-helmeted proto-Minimalist composer Moondog and the glacially slow heavy metal band Sunn 0))), among many others. Mistuned instruments, lopsided mixes, low-fi microphones, expressively imprecise timing: those are things Portishead prizes from the analog era and brings to its own recordings, which sound ever more peculiar alongside albums relying on computer-quantized rhythms and auto-tuned voices.

By now familiarity and imitators can dilute some of the strangeness of early Portishead songs like “Sour Times.” Mr. Utley said: “When ‘Dummy’ came out, I remember thinking, ‘This sounds weird, some of these tracks sound really weird.’ But because it was a popular record — and thanks for that! — it got assimilated into the mainstream. Maybe it changed the language a little bit.”

So Portishead set itself new hurdles. On its second album the group didn’t simply sample old recordings; it wrote passages for orchestra, recorded them and turned them back into samples to be manipulated. By then Portishead had an international following, and it found itself touring a huge festival circuit.

“It was bigger than it should have been,” Mr. Utley said. “When things get bigger, you can feel like you’re feeding this beast. If you’re making a lot of noise, the whole thing starts to work on another level that I’m not sure we really wanted to be on. It’s not what we set out to do.”

He continued: “We were all drinking lots to get the adrenaline going, and it all got a bit rock ’n’ roll, really. Which I am not averse to, but it took its toll in the end on us. Both Geoff and I, our home lives became messed up. We were divorced.”

Portishead hired members of the New York Philharmonic to play orchestral arrangements for the 1997 concert at Roseland Ballroom that they documented for a live album and video. “I didn’t like what we did that day,” Mr. Barrow said, calling it “overblown” and “pompous.” After the tour he and Mr. Utley mixed the live album; Mr. Barrow said he had not listened to it since. And when “Roseland Live NYC” was finished, Portishead scattered.

“At the end of that time there was nothing more to say about music or anything,” Mr. Barrow said. “So I just decided that I was going to go and live my life. People usually have to decide what they’re going to do from their late teens to their mid- to late 20s, when I had been a musician. I was like some ginormous child in the outside world.”

Mr. Barrow went to Australia, where he and a partner started an independent label, Invader, that releases avant-garde jazz and extreme heavy metal. Mr. Utley “went on to do as much music with as many people as I could: writing, soundtracks, producing things and playing with people.” In 2002 Ms. Gibbons collaborated with Paul Webb, the bassist from the group Talk Talk, who was calling himself Rustin Man. Mr. Utley performed on their album, “Out of Season,” and toured with their band for a year.

“I never had any fire in my belly to go and do anything or say anything musically until 2003, 2004,” Mr. Barrow said. That’s when Portishead quietly renegotiated its major-label contract, which ends with “Third.” (The band already manages itself, with its members deciding on everything from artwork to merchandising; it found an overwhelming demand for Portishead tea mugs, which may suggest something about its audience.)

Recording the new album went slowly. “There’s a lot of frustration with not being able to write music that becomes the frustration of the record,” Mr. Barrow said. “But there’s also a lot of frustration with just how stupid people are, us included.”

The band made rules for itself, then twisted them. “For instance, we mustn’t use instruments that we’ve used before,” Mr. Utley said. “Our trademark sound, once we’ve got it, we want to destroy it and move on to something else. So we have to become something else, we have to re-emerge as something else all the time but still the same. It’s hard.”

On “Third” Portishead’s imperfect instruments, the resonant hollows of the production and Ms. Gibbons’s voice — aching, mournful, distraught — make the band immediately recognizable. But the album never takes an easy path.

“Hunter,” which could simply have been a gentle guitar ballad — Ms. Gibbons sings, “If I should fall, would you hold me/Would you pass me by?” — is zapped by feedback and jittered by Kraut-rock synthesizer blips. “Machine Gun” rides a distorted stop-start beat made by the drum module of an old electric organ. “Nylon Smile” is an ominous web of backwards guitars, tom-toms and diminished chords in which Ms. Gibbons sings, “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you.”

One major shift is the rhythm. Most of Portishead’s past songs have been dirges, even when flecked with hip-hop drums. The tunes are just as stately on “Third.” But on many of the new songs, brittle double-time beats appear out of nowhere and just as suddenly fall away, adding rock’s impact and tension without the release.

The band is well aware that “Third” won’t go down as smoothly as “Dummy,” but it doesn’t mind. “The basic thing was to sound like ourselves, not to repeat ourselves,” Mr. Barrow said. “There was never a sense of throwing stuff in to freak people out. If there was, it was the healthy amount we always had.”

When Portishead arrived for sound check, Mr. Barrow’s face was glum as he surveyed the Munich Tonhalle, a utilitarian club in the middle of a recreation complex. A barnlike cinder-block shed, the Tonhalle might have been a good place, Mr. Utley said, for the Ramones — and not, he implied, for a band with the subtleties of Portishead. Munich was the stop between a triumphant gig in Florence and a large show in Berlin, where the director Wim Wenders would drop by backstage.

With its studio standards Portishead is so precise about timbre that it changes snare drums from song to song during its set. Here, the Tonhalle’s architecture, which didn’t allow the band to hang its P.A. system, demanded a full last-minute reinvention.

When the booking agent arrived, looking abashed, Mr. Barrow told him the place was “a nightmare.” Instruments made boomy echoes as the sound crew frantically tweaked every painstakingly chosen setting.

“This could be the last time we ever go on the road,” Mr. Barrow said. “It might not be, but it might be. So the reality is that playing a really bad-sounding gig — well, it hurts when we play.”

It wasn’t so bad, really. Echoes were absorbed by the 2,700 bodies in the packed house; Ms. Gibbons, clutching the microphone with both hands like someone clinging to a life raft, sang with doleful passion. As the band unveiled the relentless drumbeat, dissonant keyboard and jabbing guitar line of a new song, “We Carry On,” the shy Ms. Gibbons left the stage for the photographers’ pit, shaking hands with overjoyed fans.

“Just trying to kiss them and give them a cheap thrill,” she said backstage afterward. The tragic face she brings to her songs onstage was gone; she was giddy, even giggly. The show had turned into a rock concert, and an enthusiastic visitor bubbled over with compliments for Ms. Gibbons’s singing.

Her smile disappeared, and her face grew apprehensive. “It’s never good enough,” she said.
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Reply #50 on: April 26, 2008, 09:02:57 PM

Portishead is reunited and ready to play in the desert
After a long, inadvertant hiatus, Portishead has recovered, rebounded and is ready to go.
By Phil Sutcliffe, Special to The Times

MANCHESTER, England -- As Portishead takes the carefully backlighted stage at the ancient, tatty Manchester Apollo, heavy shadows fall across the band's members. The concert spotlight has never come easy to vocalist Beth Gibbons or DJ-percussionist Geoff Barrow, though guitarist Adrian Utley is more comfortable in the live arena. Still, the English champions of blue modernism and bleak elegance might be the least natural "rock stars" since Pink Floyd, whose cravings for precise execution and anonymity they share.

Even after all his years on the scene, Utley remarks, "I still find it weird that I've got someone tuning my guitars for me and handing them to me onstage -- like servants."

It's that aversion to live performance that makes the band's appearance Saturday at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival all the more remarkable. It's their only American gig on a "world tour" that began just four weeks ago in support of the band's first new album in a decade, "Third," due for release Tuesday.

While traveling via train from the band's hometown, Bristol, to the show in Manchester, Barrow confesses, "I don't enjoy it. I'm just playing to re-create the records -- trying to get it right is so stressful I don't interact with the audience like you're supposed to. Then I feel guilty about it."

A not-unfriendly Gibbons sits across the aisle, chatting with tour bassist Jim Barr -- she won't discuss her distaste for live performance, though. She never speaks to the press.

Good and sour times

Portishead launched its grave, soulful slow dance with success in 1994 with "Dummy," an album filled with insinuated bleak hook lines like "Nobody loves me, it's true" ("Sour Times") and "Give me a reason to be" ("Glory Box"). The follow-up, "Portishead" -- it's the town near Bristol where Barrow spent his teens -- did almost as well; 1998's "PNYC," recorded at New York's Roseland Theatre, inadvertently marked the beginning of their great hiatus.

Knocked sideways by the music industry promotional whirl, Gibbons fell ill, while Utley and Barrow struggled through divorces. "I was broken," Barrow recalls. "I went away to Australia for three years; couldn't write songs at all."

It took time, but Gibbons, who recorded a haunting album called "Out of Season" with her friend Rustin Man, and Utley, who sessioned with Goldfrapp, Sparklehorse and Gibbons, both recovered. When they joined Barrow in Australia to start again as Portishead in 2001, he still couldn't handle it: "I didn't have it in my stomach. No fire or fight. I was on autopilot."

Finally, after he returned to Bristol to open a record label, Invada, with a friend, he found his much-needed source of inspiration -- the excitedly committed young artists they signed gave him "a shot in the arm": "So uncompromising, loud, rude and offensive. I thought, now I can get working." Even so, Gibbons, Utley and Barrow had to lay new foundations. Utley says: "We'd often spend hours talking about Iraq, the destruction of our National Health Service, architecture . . . biscuits! Anything. Trivial to massive."

"And the talk drove us into writing," Barrow adds. "We felt properly together as a band. For me, it's partly because I'm 36 now, and the age gaps between me and Ade [50] and me and Beth [43] don't matter so much anymore."

Still they progressed circuitously. Utley and Barrow, sometimes damagingly self-critical, they agree, wrote tracks and threw them away. Often, when they presented Gibbons with material for her to add vocal melody and lyrics, she rejected it. "She has a visceral reaction to music," says Utley. "Give her something crazy -- absolute noise -- and she'll say it's not crazy enough, which slows us down again. But we trust each other enough so that we can disrupt each other. Argue. Squabble your way through."

"Portishead can be a frustrating place to live," Barrow notes.

Slow to inspiration

Early in 2006, the band took seven tracks to their label, Island, and predicted the album's completion within months. However, assailed by fresh doubts, they returned in 2007 with only six tracks -- they'd done nothing new that pleased them in the intervening year and actually opted to discard one song that previously had made the cut. They can laugh about it now because, as Barrow says, they "got on to a good one," propelled by practical motivations -- namely, they were running out of money, and Utley and Barrow each had a new baby to support.

Also, the "warm glow" of fatherhood made each of them less critical about their music.

Not that Portishead's trademark cold precision is missing from the new album. It's clangorous with mayhem and melancholy, crash drums clashing with Gibbons' vulnerable murmur, "Wounded and afraid inside my head." It satisfies Utley because it's "harsh, disjointed" and has "that pull of juxtaposition," while Barrow suggests, "This is the album where I feel we've really succeeded in capturing our thoughts."

"Third," though, will be the band's final major-label effort. Any future recordings will most likely be issued independently, but the prospect of scaling down causes Barrow no apprehension, given his experience with his own label, Invada. It was designed to survive at a micro-level and has released 25 albums carefully budgeted to break even selling just 300 copies apiece.

Indeed, these days, when he's not performing in any case, Barrow seems more at ease with his place in the world. He's come to terms with the frustrations of a childhood spent in a throwback village, Walton-in-Gordano, where his working-class background and undiagnosed dyslexia sometimes made him feel like an outsider.

"I've never felt I had that middle-class confidence in communication, except through music," he says. "Making music, I know where I am, I know I've got a strength . . ."

That might be the key to his enduring artistic bond with Gibbons. "Just the other day, she told me she first started singing so that she could communicate better -- but it's kind of done the opposite! She puts her feelings out there, but she never gets the answers she wants," Barrow says.

"I think that's why she doesn't want to be interviewed by anybody," Utley says. "The voice and the words are her. Listen to that, and, if it speaks to you, I think that's all you need to know."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #51 on: April 27, 2008, 05:38:38 AM

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Reply #52 on: April 28, 2008, 02:42:40 PM
Pitchfork's review is up. 8.8

After listening to the Coachella performance I had a momentary lapse and downloaded the album but I'm trying to resist listening. I'll probably give in by tonight.


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Reply #53 on: April 28, 2008, 03:10:19 PM
i was shocked that some friends of mine who're hardcore fans of the band loathed the album and their sell-out posture because of coachella. i've never been a full follower of their career but my opinion of the new album is very high. it's quality, there really aren't many bands producing music with such care to sound and ambience. this album, along with some bits of in rainbows and the latest by unkle, are like the rational, disenchanted consecuence of trip hop for this age.
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Reply #54 on: May 01, 2008, 01:09:37 AM
After 10 years in never-land, Portishead "knew we'd get back"

After 10 years in never-never land, Britain's "trip-hop" heroes of yesteryear, Portishead, return with a new sound this week, saying "We always knew we'd get back."

"It's very very cool," said guitarist Adrian Utley of one of Britain's most outstanding bands of the 1990s. "Portishead never truly separated, these 10 years have passed quickly.

The group's third studio album, aptly titled "Third", gathers Utley with the two other founder members of the trio, singer Beth Gibbons and multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow.

Portishead took its name from the small town near Bristol where they formed in 1991, making headlines with the group's first album "Dummy" (1994) followed by "Portishead" (1997) and the superb live recording "Roseland NYC" (1998).

Their songs, which churn out rare stomach-churning spleen, are flavoured with jazz, hip-hop, soul and film themes from the 1960s and 70s such as Ennio Morricone, John Barry, etc.

Portishead came to be hailed as the leaders of "trip-hop," a term invented by the press to characterise their music and that of other Bristol artists Tricky and Massive Attack. The branding, said Utley was "annoying".

"What was considered to be trip-hop was Massive Attack, Tricky and us. But we don't sound the same at all, we're very different," he told AFP. "Trip-hop applied to some bands that sounded like us, all of us, and took bits of all os us and made music, which is not that interesting."

After the group's "Roseland" tour, the trio took indefinite leave.

"We were playing headline festivals with 30,000 people. That was too big for Portishead and that was stressful as well."

"We hadn't got any more ideas for Portishead really," he added. "We just went home and we didn't really talk about it. It was just like we've done such a lot of work, there was no discussion about in so many years time we'll start to make a record."

All three pursued individual projects, with Barrow and Utley working with other musicians and a solo album for Beth Gibbons ("Out Of Season", 2002).

"In 2001," Utley went on, "Geoff and I went to Australia seven weeks to work in a studio and just started doing a record. But it just didn't happen, didn't feel like the music we wanted to present to the world."

Long-awaited, "Third" (Island/Universal) took four years of polish from the ultra-perfectionist band but emerged impressive, with the Portishead stamp still there though the sound has evolved considerably.

The guitars, often aggressive, are highly noticeable, with high-pitched distortion and dissonance set over a faster tempo than fans will be used to.

Guided by a resolutely experimental ideal, "Third" mixes the influences of Krautrock (German rock of the Seventies), industrial rock, electro minimalism, unusual, slow Black Sabbath style heavy metal, contemporary music and free jazz.

"It's the same people with the same mindset, just 15 years later," said Utley, who is 51 while Gibbons is 43 and Barrow 36. "We've listened to a lot of music."

As always with Portishead, the atmosphere is black and leaden, with feelings of anger and sharp concern.

"It's a shitty state we're in in England, I think, politically and everything, being disappointed and let down.

"The person we all had such hope in, the party, just turned out to be not much better than we had before. We ended up in a war where we didn't want to be."

Portishead are currently touring Europe.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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  • The Master of Two Worlds
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Reply #55 on: May 02, 2008, 11:19:27 AM
wow, this album is epic.

for some reason listening to this reminds me of 3 films:

the 2nd or 3rd track has a part that is reminiscient of Bernard Herrman's score in Vertigo during the dream sequence

the synth at the end of  Machine Gun (i believe) reminds me of Terminator 2 and i visualize when they show the road and the narration.

the verse melody to one of the later tracks - the one with cowbell - is either exact or fairly close to one of the songs in Teen Wolf, maybe Win in the End?

i don't say this negatively either. i don't see 10 other albums better than this coming out for the rest of the year that could knock this one off.
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Reply #56 on: May 18, 2008, 06:04:26 AM
This is an astounding album. I need to digest it further, but



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Reply #57 on: June 06, 2008, 01:30:06 AM

Portishead’s pre-Coachella, private rehearsal in L.A. is about to get a lot less private. It’s still daylight but people are lined up for a city block outside the Mayan Theater on downtown’s Hill Street. Inside, the venue is crowded with industry types and journalists -- experienced and sometimes weary veterans of many rehearsals, concerts, and bands -- and even they buzz with anticipation for tonight’s performance. There is a flush of excitement in the air that has become contagious. This is the first time Portishead has played a gig in Los Angeles in a decade and it might be the last. Singer Beth Gibbons takes the stage and at the first sound of her voice, the crowd goes silent, enchanted. By the encore’s finish, Gibbons eases off stage and into the crowd. She smiles, shakes hands… she is both delicate and devastating. The crowd goes nuts.

The media may love its rock gods and heathen priests, but it loves its elusive characters as well. Portishead’s power comes from the unspoken, sensual language used to craft each song, piece by piece, with the elegance and self-discipline of musicians who respect one another. Theirs is a camaraderie borne from essential privacy. The band has no public story, per se. They neither feed the headlines nor have managed media personas of any sort. They lead private lives and from that, draw great strength and create great art. Geoff’s rhythm reinforces Beth’s meaning, while Adrian’s tone shapes our mood. The music is mysterious but never misleads; it is never what you expect, but shows it’s meaning when you finally just shut up and listen. Some say its theme is loneliness, but others might say it’s about the possibility of human connection. Regardless, its affect on the audience is spellbinding.

Three days before the rehearsal, I meet with Portishead at the Roosevelt Hotel: Beth is relaxing in her room, Adrian Utley is busy with another interview, Geoff Barrow and I are sitting poolside and we can’t stop laughing. I’ve just given him permission to throw me in the pool. We are surrounded by strange people acting up in strange ways and it’s making him a bit uncomfortable so I’ve suggested an alternative way to relieve the stress of an afternoon filled with press and publicity functions. Indeed, poolside is an odd place to find oneself with Portishead, discussing Third, the band’s new album and first in ten years, released April 29 to coincide with band’s appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Erin Broadley: You seem like you have a very healthy sense of humor. Do you think Portishead is misinterpreted as overly serious most of the time?

Geoff Barrow: Yeah, massively, but you don’t really get to hear from us a lot. Most people are full of bullshit so there’s not many truths out there. You’ve got to take everything with a pinch of salt. I mean, we are [laughs] fairly serious about making music but… I can’t really take myself seriously as a performer. I’m 36-years-old; I’ll probably lose my hair in a couple of years and put a nice little ponch on, you know. Our seriousness comes down to trying to project our music in [a certain] way… we look really miserable because we’re just trying desperately. A lot of people nowadays have backing tracks and tape and we just don’t. We shit our pants every time we play. So far we’ve been really lucky and things have worked out. But you never know in a big gig scenario. We do live on the knife-edge of it actually sounding any good or totally rubbish. [Some bands] work in ginormous situations. We work in a studio.

EB:Controlled, personal…

GB:Yeah, controlled environment. But when it comes to taking ourselves seriously, Beth really doesn’t take herself seriously at all.

EB:One thing Beth said about you is that you’re a contradiction of sorts: in some senses very traditional and then in other senses just hell bent on breaking the rules. How do you find the balance between the two?

GB:I’m passionate about music. I think there’s just so much shit everywhere… politically, business wise, the way that people interact, communication. Portishead really comes about through frustration and we write about the inability for human beings to communicate, human conditioning and the way you’re supposed to live your bullshit life, things that you’re supposed to buy that you don’t really need, mass marketing demographic swipes… talent-less fucks being popular for no reason. It always happens; it was always sex symbols. I’m not a grumpy old fuck at all but I feel passionate that we’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and we constantly keep on taking those wrong turns. I mean, I think sites like yours make a difference to people. I think that you can live outside the box without fuckin’ being attacked.

EB:Like you can create your own little world where what you do makes sense.

GB:Yeah, and you’re not alone in that world. Because that’s always the preconception that as soon as you disagree with the mainstay of kind of human conditioning then you’re ostracized outside and it’s bullshit, really. It’s strange because we’ve always been considered like dance music…


GB:Well, I think so, by people who hang around by pools like this.

EB:[Laughs] Doing laps…

GB:[Laughs] Doing laps, drinking cocktails, doing their party drugs, getting their skin cancer. It’s pretty weird; the most horrible people I’ve ever met have actually been through dance music. And all the people I really love are the people that make rock and roll [laughs]. But there’s a definite distinction, especially in England because dance music is so enormous. Dance music in England is extreme electronic, Detroit-based, doing loads of pills and getting off your head… that kind of vibe.

EB:You have always seemed a bit more organic than that.

GB:I mean, we’re fairly hard to categorize but [I don’t know whether] that’s not a good or bad thing, really.

EB:What are some of the other misconceptions that you run in to?

GB:We write music for people to chill out to. That’s the biggest misconception you could ever have.

EB:Do you think people are overly hyping the fact that it’s been so long between albums?

GB:Of course, yeah.

EB:Some are calling it a reunion but, well, you guys never broke up.

GB:We didn’t, no.

EB:How do you keep from being frustrated with that kind of thing?

GB:Well, the thing is, the media as it works, most people you see have already answered your questions. That’s why they’re asking that question because they want a certain answer, because it works for their publication, because it lets them deliver what it is they need to deliver. There’s a lot of journalists out there so they want to make sure they get the job the next time… then it all turns into one cluster-fuck of crap [laughs].


GB:So, it’s really weird. We’ve met some really nice people and done some good interviews but all you’re doing is fulfilling their needs for product.

EB:The balance between art and commerce…

GB:Oh, massively, yeah. I think that that’s the big thing. I think it’s a ginormous thing, actually, that we seem to always struggle with. When we do TV shows, sometimes we present ourselves in maybe a slightly harsher way. People have got this preconception that we’re actually this arty, English culture…


GB:Yeah, they might think we’re standoffish because we just present music in quite a harsh way sometimes. In England, recently, when they were telling us to play this track and chop this up it’s like, “You asked us on, you know what our record sounds like. This is us. If you don’t like it then fuck off.”

EB:It seems a lot of popular music lately is compromised by compromise.

GB:[Laughs] So why doesn’t it sell anything? Because it’s shit and it’s been compromised.

EB:It’s like the snake eating it’s own tail.

GB:Yeah, feed the monster. We call it “feeding the monster” all the time …

EB:Feed me, Seymour!


EB:Being on both sides of the glass, as a producer and musician, how do you know when a song or album is done?

GB:It’s in your gut, really. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. I always over think everything [laughs]. But it’s in your gut when it feels finished.

EB:Like, when your kid grows up and you finally just know it’s time to kick it out of the house.

GB:Yeah, exactly. I’ve got two little girls. One’s been sick back in England at the moment. She’s not seriously sick but she’s only four and a half so we’re a bit nervous about it. Kids are kids.

EB:She’s got your feisty genes. She’ll be a fighter.

GB:[Laughs] I fuckin’ hope so.

EB:What were some of your favorite parts of this recording process? You wrote something on your website comparing it to a Tomb Raider or “Lost”. This journey with no answers…

GB:It is. That’s what it was like. And now since we finished it, all the doors are open again so we can really go back into those things again.

EB:Do you enjoy recording?

GB:I enjoy the recording process because the writing and recording and mixing process for us kind of all happen at once, even though we do eventually do a mix of all the tracks at the end. We generally try and write and record at the same time and keep on edging it. Like, one track might have started off as an acoustic track and ends up as something completely different at the end of the album. It’s not over-remixing; it’s just evolving. We definitely try hard not to do just standards. The idea for us is to progress musically, all the time, if we can. The whole idea of this album was to progress, to sound like us, but not repeat ourselves. Which is really hard.

EB:You did an interview with Pitchfork where you were talking about how you like to discover new things in the studio. What are some favorite tricks you’ve discovered? Like something that came about randomly but turned out really well…

GB:There’s very little randomness in our studio. On this album there’s a track called “The Rip” and it starts with an acoustic guitar and vocal and then I put some drums on it and a synth bass from the start because the idea of an acoustic track was doing my head in. I thought, I’ll write this completely different thing. I decided to play half the track acoustically and then fade the track in, which is kind of like a studio thing anyway, but I did it and listened to it back I was like… there’s these things that you do, they’re really rare, like once every five years you get something that gives you chills. And that’s what you do it for, totally.

EB:It’s different for every artist but for actors sometimes the only reason that they do movies is to get to experience something they’ve never experienced before. Is it the same for you?

GB:Yeah, I think it is. We changed. It might be subtle direction change to some people but it could be massive to others. I’ve heard the people go, “Oh I can’t listen to that its weird, that’s not Portishead.” And it’s like, “Well, it is because we’re us.” But other people go, “Oh yeah, it’s great, I really like that…

EB:Who is anyone to decide what Portishead sounds like?

GB:Yeah. But you get these people, especially nowadays in our media friendly world. It was sort of weird; in 1998 we did this massive tour and we did all this stuff and then I kind of quit music for like three years.

EB:You also started your own label, Invada, during that time.

GB:Yeah. The label mainly deals with drone metal and just experimental jazz stuff and anything that’s just fucked and a bit interesting. I met so many nice people that are just so not into the music industry… no commercial aspirations because they know what they’re doing is just fucking odd. I met those people and just instantly it was like…

EB:You’re home.

GB:Yeah. It really was. And I discovered bands like Sunn O))) and Ohm. I fuckin’ love Ohm. And people like Electric Wizard and bands like Silver Apples and lots of old English psych stuff. The Coral, we produced their album and they’ve got an amazing collection of stuff. Interesting, old, horror rock-and-roll stuff.

EB:I read that you love old soundtracks and they’re a big influence on you.

GB:Yeah. Not so much on this record but in the past it used to be. Soundtrack people used to be able to really experiment with sound. Because they don’t have to write a song, they just have to hit a drum and put it through an echo and all that kind of mad stuff. So lots of stuff… Can, the Plastic People of the Universe who are a Czech republic psychedelic band from the mid-70s, they’re brilliant. Really out there. And they got locked away for playing music.

EB:In jail?

GB:Yeah. In the Czech Republic.

EB:Wow. Are you excited about where this album might take you? You’ve said before that with the amount of time that went by between albums, what it allowed you to do was get rid of that pressure to come out with a big success which was nice because then you got to do whatever you wanted.

GB:Well, we’re contract free now in publishing and recording. So, to be honest, we’re just kind of not too sure whether we want to play the media game anymore, at all. I think we could always play it and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. I just mean that if we release interesting music then hopefully people will be interested in it. I think that we might disappear even more and just carry on releasing music and just let the music talk.

EB:Would you miss performing live?

GB:Well, we could possibly still do that. I just don’t know how because if you consider traditionally on a 10-pound album in the UK, the band would get 80 pence and then we would give 20 percent to management and then might end up with 15 pence on an album or something. And I’m not just talking about money here, but obviously that’s what you need to live.

EB:That’s the thing, we can talk about art versus commerce all we want but at the end of the day you gotta eat. Your family’s gotta eat.

GB:Exactly. So we’re going to investigate. We’re talking to people about deals but, to be honest, I’m finding it’s tougher and tougher doing the interview thing and finding it tougher and tougher to communicate with the media. Because, there are some brilliant journalists out there, but everyone’s got to do shit to survive and sometimes I’d rather not be part of that game. And that’s a really lucky position to be in, to have that choice. But sometimes I think we just think, fucking hell, how ridiculous is this. I think you can just put out a mission statement and just put out how you feel about that stuff on the Internet now. Why we took so long to make this record [is because] we had to feel it, really. So the future’s going to be interesting, I’m actually genuinely excited about releasing music by ourselves and not having to compromise.

EB:How’s it been with your fans?

GB:We have very little contact with our fans, really. It’s not because we don’t want to, because everything that we do is in our music...

EB:Audiences can be harsh, like asking you to apologize for taking time to record the album you wanted.

GB:[Laughs] Yeah. See, that’s kind of fairly weird. That’s just the monster. The monster has created people like that. They basically go, “Well, I want it now.”

EB:They’re all Veruca Salts.

GB:Basically, yeah. That’s who I see; Veruca Salts everywhere. But they don’t know any different because that’s the way they’ve always had what they wanted, because manufacturing in China is cheap.

EB:And information is cheap.

GB:Yeah, exactly.

EB:But you have you draw the line somewhere because an album might belong to you but the band doesn’t.

GB:Yeah, I know, but a lot of people probably think that the bands do. Strangely enough, I think a lot more people in America think that the band owes them something more than any other country. That’s what I’ve noticed. Like, “Why haven’t you done this?” That is the weird thing about the Internet. We dip our toe into it. I usually drunkenly add a blog [laughs].

EB:How do you keep from losing your head?

GB:I kind of do, a lot. I kick the shit out of stuff. It’s usually just using my punch bag or throwing Yorkshire pudding through a window, which I did recently. I burnt it and it was after a bad week so I just chucked them through the kitchen window. Not a good idea, really.

EB:There’s nothing like the sound of a shattering window.

GB:[Laughs] I know. Dangerous! I play a lot of football, you know, soccer. It’s never violent ‘cause I’m fairly unfit… any anger that I have is just taken out by collapsing on the floor.

[Both laugh]
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #58 on: June 09, 2008, 09:58:03 PM
Thom and Jonny do The Rip


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Reply #59 on: November 23, 2009, 11:37:55 AM
Geoff Barrow's new project
BEAK> were formed in January 2009 by three Bristol musicians, Billy Fuller, Matt Williams and Geoff Barrow.

The band have very strict guidelines governing the recording and writing process of their work. The music was recorded live in one room with no overdubs or repair, only using edits to create arrangements. All tracks were written over a twelve-day session in SOA Studio’s, Bristol. The album is to be released on Invada records UK and Europe.

Sometimes a band can be no more than the sum of it’s parts, but BEAK> are an equation in which it’s impossible to define equivalents or totals. Instead the meeting of three talent’s form a foundation from which idea’s assimilate and propagate. Those talents are:

Billy Fuller. Reared in Bristol, on an aural diet of anything and everything, facilitated later by his time working in the cities top independent record shop Replay Records, and also playing with handfuls of bands – including Invada’s first signing: Fuzz Against Junk, as well as Massive Attack, Robert Plant, and Malakai. Billy is BEAK>’S thoughtful pulse; his bass a forceful origin for their superlative narrative arcs.

Matt Williams. Picked up a Yamaha keyboard aged three and never looked back, as Team Brick creates dissonance that immediately elucidates free forming thought, and impacts heavily on BEAK>’S rolling landscape. He enjoys playing air drums whilst cycling, singing lines from a favourite Latin prayer and doesn’t understand the music he makes himself.

Geoff Barrow. Musician and producer born near Bristol. Best known for forming and producing popular music group Portishead and part owner of the independent record label Invada Records . Commenting on working in BEAK> "its really good to create music under different conditions than your used too.”"