In the beginning, there was the hang. What made Portico Quartet stand out at the beginning of their career, anyway, was having taken this wok-like Swiss musical instrument from the pedestrian zone to the jazz stage. Nick Mulvey’s hang took center stage on their 2008 debut album, »Knee-Deep in the North-Sea,« along with the electronically amplified saxophone of Jack Wyllie. Then, on the next few albums, the band’s sound moved further and further away from the airy jazz structure, becoming denser, more atmospheric and more electronic.
Nick Mulvey dropped out in 2011 to further his songwriting career. The Brits downsized to a trio, dropped the quartet from their name and got rid of the wok instrument on the following album. Instead, they signed a record deal with Ninja Tune, where they fit in perfectly with the jazzy downtempo of »Living Fields«. A short time later, they expanded back to a quartet, turned back to more jazz, and moved to Matthew Halsall’s Gondwana Records. In their current lineup, the group reflected Banjamin’s »Art In The Age Of Automation« on their 2017 album. Their Art in the age of automation was to intertwine the sample and loop-based production style of their brief trio phase with the organic jazz of their earlier works. On their latest album, »Memory Streams,« they went even further, tying rhythmic and melodic set pieces of their own pieces into the new works as memories.
Portico Quartet have long since become a fixture in Contemporary UK Jazz. The new album »Terrain« consists of three longer, pattern-based pieces inspired by minimal music and ambient – and continues to make use of the unique sound of the Hang. Their stylistic uniqueness somewhere between the worlds of jazz, electronica and indie has also been increasingly reflected in their own remixes in recent years. Portico Quartet has worked with artists as diverse as Nigel Godrich’s supergroup Ultraista, jazz favorites GoGoPenguin and Polish pianist Hania Rani.
For us, Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie has put together 60 minutes of music in an exclusive DJ mix.