Formed in 2005 from two sets of school friends its their distinctive sound that sets the Portico Quartet apart from other young East London bands.
Using the hang, a tuned percussion instrument that was bought on impulse at WOMAD festival they have created a sound that is like World Music from the future. Both pleasingly familiar and thrillingly new.
The four principle voices in the band – sax, bass, drums and hang – communicate with the intensity of a string quartet, the ease of a jam session and the youthful glee of a pop group.
From a grass roots start busking on the South Bank of the Thames Portico Quartet’s first album ‘Knee Deep In The North Sea’ attracted attention from DJs, bloggers, and critics across many genres and was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Music Prize.
All of the band cite Steve Reich’s ‘Music For 18 Musicians’, made before any of them were born, as a landmark album in their development. Their influences are as diverse as Queen, Miles Davies and Toumani Diabaté and this variety is reflected in their musical education. Collectively they were schooled in jazz, classical and popular music and Jack Wyllie and Nick Mulvey from the band studied Mbira and Balinese gamelan at the School of African and Oriental Studies. Growing up immersed in the global jukebox available via the internet, Portico Quartet’s music cannot be classified as world, jazz, pop, rock, or contemporary classical, yet it is influenced by all these genres.
Portico Quartet’s second album, ‘Isla’, is the sum of all these parts mixed with the music they listen to today. They worked with producer John Leckie who has a track record as a catalyst for emerging talent, famous examples include Stone Roses, Doves and Radiohead. 70 per cent of the album was performed live in the legendary Abbey Road No. 2 Studio in London.