Monday, 27 February 2012


Portico Quartet* are a band from London. Their sound is made partially distinctive by the use of the Hanga 21st Century percussion instrument. The group is composed of Jack Wyllie (soprano and tenor saxophone), Duncan Bellamy (drums), Milo Fitzpatrick (double bass), and Keir Vine (Hang and percussion). Nick Mulvey, former Hang player and percussionist, left in early 2011 to pursue his career as singer-songwriter. He is replaced by Keir Vine.

After nearly two years of playing mainly small gigs and busking regularly outside the National Theatre in London, they signed to Babel Label in 2007. Their first album, *Knee-deep in the North Sea* was released on 5 November 2007 coupled with performances at the London Jazz Festival at Purcell
Room together with pianist Michiel Borstlap and drummer Bill Bruford

They are now signed to Real World Records. The name portico comes from when one of their gigs was rained off in Italy, and they ended up playing under a portico. Their third, most recent, self-titled titled album was released on January 30th 2012.

I was first introduced to PQ in 2005 by some very good friends who studied at SOAS and King's college. I heard about this house party in South London where these four amazing musicians played an impromptu gig in their own house around 5am. Soon after I was invited to a gig at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank where I witnessed and heard a form of Jazz music unlike anything I had ever heard before. Using instruments I was previously unaware of, and conjuring a truly magical and mystical sound which came across as more like a soundtrack/score than a collection of songs. I can honestly say I was truly blown away and have been a fan ever since.

Now in January 2012 I find myself extremely excited at the chance to see them in a relatively intimate show at Rough Trade Shops East, London. Portico Quartet are here to promote they're third and latest self-titled Album. As it’s an in-store gig the set is short, consisting of 6 tracks, 4 of which were taken from the new album.

The new album is a big step forward for the band yet also makes perfect sense too with the sounds that have recently been coming out of London, on the more electronic / dance side of things. But do not be perturbed by this new angle, PQ still maintain their unique and captivating sound yet successfully incorporate an electronic edge/flavour, taking influence from such artists as Four Tet, Burial and Mount Kimbie. All tracks on the album are recorded from single live takes.
Kicking off with 'Window Seat’ the band's sound manages to fill the room swiftly in a subtle yet encompassing manner, gently warming the crowd. The ambience of the strings gradually loses to the sweeping electronic pads serving up a wonderful introduction, which leads straight into the next track 'Lacker Boo'. Beautifully dark, the second track from PQ really shows their deep and soulful side and the repetitiveness of the backbeat becomes almost hypnotic.

'Ruins' is the track which first instantly stood out to me from the album and still has that solid PQ signature sound which rides over a low-slung 2-step beat. The combination of the double bass bassline and cutting hi-hats rhythm builds a sense of anticipation and slight unease before the Alto sax comes in with strong heart-wrenching melodies and lead lines whisking you away into a heavenly soundscape.
'Coy Carp' is introduced by the band as a song that didn't make it to the final album but should have been included in their eyes....that’s the record industry for you.... (However, if you buy the album from Rough Trade you do receive an exclusive bonus cd which includes 'Coy Carp' and 4 other tracks.)The track has a more industrial side to it with high pitched whines from the sax player and glitchy electronic beats, yet morphs through the PQ orchestra-like sound ending with a 90 sec piano reprise.

The penultimate song from the band (‘Spinner’) kicks off with a bassline I’m sure Roni Size would be envious of and a really nice rim-shot break but gradually builds into a very busy sonic climax. Finishing with 'City Of Glass' I am happily satisfied that Portico Quartet are still the band I knew before but have even more scope for the future with the incorporation of electronics. The four highly accomplished musicians have a great connection with each other and 'City If Glass' is the perfect end to a short but amazing gig.

            I  thoroughly recommend anyone to go and see them, even if the word 'Jazz' generally puts you off. They are a unique and wonderful band and I look forward to see where they will take us next. I really wouldn't be surprised if they were approached to do a film score or two soon...

Check out a live studio recording of 'Ruins' here including a link for a free download.

Special thanks goes out to Paul Cross from taking the time to write this review for Lionstigersrahhh. 

For more on Paul Cross's music, check this out... Mixcloud

Saturday, 25 February 2012


Best way to start your weekend Trap Waves Vol. 1. Courtesy of the talent that is  Vissukamma Ratsaphong who is a Sydney based art director and designer, working predominately with M U S I C.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


When I first received the invite for Raarr, I was taken back by the opening sentence  ‘Never work with children or animals they say’. I have worked with children ranging from 6 months to 6 years old for over 10 years and have been humbled by every encounter. My days of educating were filled with honesty, curiosity and an infinite wealth of potential from each child to say the least. But the exhibition name is quite fitting for lionstigersrahhh and I get extremely excited by the idea of artists collaborating with children and giving them an opportunity to express their own realities. Children or young people possess a vivid creative imagination and they see the world through a very colourful kaleidoscope. It is quite refreshing to say the least to see children’s work being respected and exhibited at The Book Club.
 Raarr (pronounced RAAARRGHHH!) - pretty much how (lionstigersRAAARRGHH is pronounced) is an exhibition consisting of collaborative zoological drawings. However, ordinary collaborations they are not. The involved artists are in fact a whole generation apart. In my personal opinion there is no difference in how many generations apart the artist are. What matters here is the dialogue that was created, how they each challenged the others thoughts and ideas about art, imagination and perceiving the world around them.
PhotobucketThe best drawing I have ever received from a child was at a Primary School in Hackney. The child handed me a drawing that was filled with love hearts or should I say, everything was made with love hearts. Flowers were in the shape of love hearts, the sun was too and even the hot air balloon. That child explained that it was love heart land and that she would like to take me there because everything was made out of love hearts and everything was fun there.

Contributing illustrators and their chosen creatures:

Mike Bertino: Babbon 

Jon Boam: Bat

  James Clapham: Ostrich  

kristina collantes: Ring Tailed Lemur

Jay Cover (Nous Vous): Crocodile  

Kristian Hammerstad: Pig  

Jason Kerley: Shark

  James Ari King: Bear

  Micah Lidberg: Horse  

Antonio Ladrillo: Worm

  Miss Lotion: Wild Boar Robert Maple: Mouse 

Andy Miller: Fox

  Marcus Oakley: Orangutan 

  Mike Perry: Caterpillar Kyle Platts: Lizard

  Kate Prior: Cat   

Daniel Sparkes: Wolf   

Katja Spitzer:   Okapi 

 Ian Stevenson: Rabbit

Magic Sweater: Walrus

Zeloot: Bird

Pure innocence with a world of potential and a voice that wants to be heard is exactly the essence of what Raahh represents. 

Twenty two illustrators have been specially commissioned to draw a reptile, bird, mammal, amphibian, fish or insect of their choosing... sans-head or face.  Upon completion these headless wonders will be passed onto the real talent: twenty-two eager school children who will receive the baton from the illustrators and complete the drawings; adding features, colour, limbs, even names, whilst not forgetting the all important heads. 
Most of the younger collaborators will be friends and relatives of their “bigger-kid” counterparts. However some of the participating illustrators are from distant corners of the world, so the help of local primary schools has been enlisted to contribute to the project. As half of the work is by children it was thought only fair that all of the profits made from the show will be donated to the NSPCC, a UK children’s charity based a stones throw from The Book Club. 


So shake your legs, stretch them out and take yourself for a little stroll to The Book Club for Raahh the exhibition. The exhibition runs from Thursday 19th  ends 26th February and it's free entry!

Screen and risograph printing courtesy of James Ari KingIt Drew Itself and Ditto Press. Concept and Curation Jason Kerley, Assisted by Aine Sheehan, James Ari King & Iris Gundacker.
Directed by Liat Chen
Risograph Printing by Ditto Press