Portico Quartet (4 stars)

Portico Quartet

Knee-Deep in the North Sea (Babel Vortex)


The first release on the new label jointly run by Oliver Weindling’s The Babel Label and the London jazz club The Vortex features the debut album from a young group attracting a lot of attention at the moment. Their group sound – and a considerable part of their fascination – centres on the unusual percussion instrument at the heart of their music. The ‘hang’ has been described as looking like a large wok and sounding like a refined steel drum, and you can hear what whoever coined that one was getting at.

Devised by a Swiss couple and played by Nick Mulvey and drummer Duncan Bellamy, it brings a unique and beguiling colour to the quartet’s instrumental sound, dovetailed with the more conventional sonics of Jack Wylie’s soprano saxophone, Milo Fitzpatrick’s double bass and Bellamy’s drums. The quartet’s music is equally intriguing, bringing together and reshaping a variety of strands from jazz, world music and contemporary classical sources.

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