Skip navigation

ARTIST – Portishead
ALBUM – Dummy
YEAR – 1994

Dark, gloomy, gray, sad, depressing, mellow, impossible to turn off. Some of the adjectives I usually use to describe this release. It’s excellent, outstanding, grandiose, superb. I’ve got more…
Beth Gibbons, the vocalist, delivers her vocals, it seems, in a great deal of distress. It sounds, for some odd reason, cool and soft and secure. It’s almost like a weeping, wounded woman, but yet so powerful. I just love this album. I hope to still catch them on tour, one day, who knows?!
The other master sound engineers that compose this exclusive trio are Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley. Barrow is the producer and instrumentalist and Utley a jazz guitarist, heavily influenced by the classics. I guess that from the sound of the band and background of these musicians you could probably expect good things.
Well, this album presents things, better than good, though. Exceptional, I reckon. It’s such a mysterious and complex and serious record. It’s so cool, jazzy cool, like those heavily air conditioned smokey lounges, where people mingle and drink martinis and smoke Marlboros, surrounded by nifty 60s and 70s furniture. Imagine a sort of red, velvet sort of couches with dimmed lights. Very smooth ambiance. That’s how I feel when I listen to Portishead. It’s so fucking sweet and sour, so cool. There’s no better word, I’m sorry.
Doesn’t it give off that mood, though? All beautiful ladies chatting and drinking in a spacious environment, all very poise and self-aware, with this type of music in the background.
The album offers more, however, much, much more. It gets dramatic and depressing and almost, just almost happy. It’s like being dragged into a whirlpool of emotions, a quicksand of sentiment. Really moving stuff. Just listen to the fucking album…
Tracks. Once again, redundancy sets in. This, like all other albums posted, shares similar qualities, one of which is the impossibility of turning the CD player, or iPod, or what the fuck ever, off. It’s that good. So, let’s just say that the record starts out setting the mood, sort of ambiguous about where it’s going to take us, with “Biscuit”. Then comes “Glory Box”, which approaches the stereo as if you were walking in to that aforementioned lounge. It gets closer and closer, then she sings. Her voice, in this song at least, seems to be a bit more cheery. Then, we get depressed again. “It could be sweet has such a mesmerising drum machine that pulls you, almost dreamlike, through the song, guided by Gibbons. “Mysterons” is one of my favourites. I really enjoy those scratches and the creepy, scary movie like introduction. I won’t mention “Numb”, it’s a classic – no need. “Roads” deserves a mention, though. It’s such a deep, profound and difficult song – stay away if you’ve been recently dumped or just lost your job. It’s deep, wicked, though. Skip the James Bondian “Sour Times”, also a classic, and we come to my number one song of the album, “Strangers”. I first heard this album shortly after its release. Really enjoyed it, then I forgot it for a bit. Then, a few years ago I heard “Strangers” on a skate video I was watching and it all came back to me. How could I not have this on my iPod or playing all day long???!!! This song is perfect, perfect, top marks!!! The best is the small breath-like pause right at the beginning – about 1:14 into the song. Then roll in the beats and Gibbons to kick you in the arse. As Alec Baldwin’s character likes to put it, “good stuff, good stuff”, then it’s a pat in the the ass.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: