Portico Quartet announce Terrain, a three-part suite drawing on American minimalism and ambient music alongside their own rich heritage as they explore new musical vistas
When Duncan Bellamy and Jack Wyllie – the driving force behind Portico Quartet got together in their East London studio in May 2020 and started work on the music that would become their new album, the world, or most of it, was in the midst of the first lockdown. The unique impact of the events of 2020 became the backdrop to their time composing and recording; causing them to take stock, re-think, and plot a new musical path.
Indian novelist Arundhati Roy expressed the sense of grief and rupture from the pandemic as "a portal, a gateway between one world and the next", and as they created the music that would become Terrainthey were drawn towards longer, slowly unfolding pieces, which are perhaps the most artistically free and also the most beautiful they have ever made.
These are compositions more in the lineage of Line and Shed Song (Isla/2009), Rubidium (Portico Quartet/2012) and Immediately Visible (Memory Streams/2019). Wyllie expands: "We've always had this side of the band in some form. The core of it is having a repeated pattern, around which other parts move in and out, and start to form a narrative. We used to do longer improvisations not dissimilar to this around the time of our second record Isla. On Terrain we've really dug into it and explored that form. I suppose there are obvious influences such as American minimalism, but I was particularly inspired by the work of Japanese composer Midori Takada. Her approach, particularly on 'Through the Looking Glass', where she moves through different worlds incorporating elements of minimalism with non-Western instruments and melodies were at the front of my mind when writing this music".