, 17. October 2016
Mysterious, quiet Pioneers of Trip-Hop


It is quiet around the former visionaries of trip-hop. Portishead has reported last time in 2011 to work on a new album. Nevertheless, we look at the history of the band that has made the term trip-hop popular in the 90's.

x-working Portishead at a live concert at the Primavera Sound 2008
Portishead at a live concert at the Primavera Sound 2008

Portishead – that is Geoff Barrow (arrangements), Beth Gibbons (vocals), Adrian Utley (guitar and synthesizer) and Dave McDonald (sound engineer). They are additionally supported by musicians during their live performances. Just like many other trip-hop bands Portishead comes from the South English Bristol. Barrow provided the band the name, the area from which he comes from is called Portishead. Once the creative head Geoff Barrow was a studio employee of Massive Attack. He also polished as a remixer and producer on tracks from Depeche Mode, Paul Weller and Primal Scream. Until he met Beth Gibbons in 1991. They released the soundtrack for the ten-minute film "To Kill a Dead Man", a tribute to the 60s spy movies. As a duo they also released their first single "It Could Be Sweet". Excited by the result they decided to continue working together. Soon jazz guitarist Adrian Utley joined them.

The single "Sour Times" can be considered as a precursor of the new trip-hop. It was a mix of hip hop and dub. At that time a similar sound was only produced by Massive Attack. In 1993, the engineer Dave McDonald joined the trio. They started working on their debut album. In 1994 "Dummy" was published. The album exceeded all expectations. The melancholic sluggish sound and the dramatic voice of Beth Gibbons give the band a distinctive recognition value. The singles "Glory Box" and "Sour Times" even made the breakthrough in the US. Portishead creamed off the profits in this row, including the title "Album of the Year" and "Best Dance Act", voted by the New Musical Express (NME).

The next Portishead album then appeared not until September 1997. On this album you find little playful melodies, on the contrary, it sounds very grim. Portishead proved their ability live to combine electronic music with classical elements. A 35 person strong orchestra supported the standard ensemble of synthesizers, DJ, drums and guitar.

Then it went quiet around the band for a long time. In 2002 Beth Gibbons launched a solo career and also Geoff Barrow alone became successful. Nevertheless Portishead always denied rumors resolution. Then, in April 2008, its third album was actually released, which they named "Third". The album represented a musical switch from trip-hop to electronic avant-garde. From time to time they play together, most recently at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2015.

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