REVIEW: Portishead - Dummy (Go! Discs/London)

- Joe Silva

Whereas the small UK town of Portishead didn't even warrant a speck of geographic recognition in my hefty atlas, the band of the same monicker has gone beyond being a blip on the MTV musical map. Their near-dub drenched, cafe noir soundscapes have garnered the much coveted Buzz Bin status, meaning millions of kids are now wolfing down their after school cookies, milk and Green Day with a Portishead chaser. Which is disturbing considering that I can't see anyone reaching for Dummy until sometime just before midnight, when they've come home stoked on java and looking for something to subdue the shakes. What 22 year old sound man/bedroom techno-whiz Geoff Barrow and his somewhat enigmatic chanteuse Beth Gibbons have etched out together are dark little fugues, laced with hip hop rhythms and haunting vocals. On something like "Strangers", Portishead show that they can jump vibes from subversive, thumping bass movements, to subtle jazz guitar licks that sound like they were lifted from a scratchy 78, and back again effortlessly, all in one track. "Sour Times" has gotten all the attention so far with its muted bass line rumbling underneath, the chilling vocal hook in the chorus and a thin twangy guitar line strung around the whole package. Dummy is all thick, smoky atmospherics and lush life sonics with a few DJ flourishes that will still probably wind up marking a lot of time in club and cafe land. Geoff mentioned that they weren't much interested in touring, but he might have to retract that comment if the hoopla goes on much longer. That is, unless someone slips David Lynch a copy of the disc soon and snatches them up first.

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