Music:Portishead, from the other room, masked -- fittingly -- by a fan
The Speed of Sound
The new Portishead album is great, though I don't agree with Pitchfork reviewer Nate Patrin's assertion that the formula for it equals the band's first two records minus trip-hop. I still hear plenty of the Bristol Sound seething underneath the more diverse sonic foliage. But there's also a nod to the dubstep aesthetic that Joel and I discussed at last month's Experience Music Project conference. Some of the tracks foreground speeded-up beats which, in combination with Beth Gibbons' drawn-out vocal phrasings, give Third a tense feel different from their previous albums. "We Carry On" is the most striking example -- listen for yourself -- as well as being a candidate for the best song I've ever heard that makes me feel like my head is about to explode. To borrow from my own take on Burial, it's like Portishead are forcing us to listen for their past in the spaces vacated by the slow throb for which they were justly celebrated. Release is under erasure.