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PORT-ROYAL – Flares (Resonant)

Posted: September 9th, 2005, by Simon Proffitt

In the world of science and technology, it’s often been the case that an important discovery has been made simultaneously by different people completely independently of each other, as if the thing itself decided that the time was right to be outed and revealed itself to a number of researchers at the same time, so as to avoid accusations of favouritism. This is somewhat less true of the music world.

Flares sounds a lot like a lot of other stuff that’s out there at the moment, and while it might be stretching the bounds of credibility to claim that that’s pure coincidence, it doesn’t mean that Italian collective Port-Royal are unoriginal bandwagon-jumpers. Instead of just being inspired by one or two fairly obvious things, what they do well is take good familiar bits from a number of sources (Manitoba, Mogwai, the Montreal post-rock scene, early Warp Records) and melt them together into an intriguing, well balanced and pretty cohesive blob, and we end up with 78 minutes of epic, sprawling, lush and quite uplifting electronica tinged post-rock shimmering (or shimmering post-rock tinged electronica. Rearrange the terms anyway you want).

Things start off underwhelmingly, it has to be said – the first track is a bit bland, with warm synth sweeps, Mogwai-lite reverby guitar, GY!BE minor piano chords and ‘found sound’ vocal mutterings, and the second track gets my back up because the anthemic drum sample that kicks in after a minute doesn’t quite loop properly, but somewhere during the third track, the three-part Zobione, the album starts to make more sense, and rises above mere unobtrusive pleasant-enough background music to become something genuinely worth listening to. There’s all sorts of stuff going on, from glitchy cut up urgency reminiscent of Magn├ętophone, to gently strummed acoustic singer-songwritery, to the kind of cinematic synth swathes and downtempo rhythm previously found on B12/Black Dog/Artificial Intelligence era Warp or Apollo Records, with those shimmery, delayed guitars-played-like-mandolins never too far out of reach. The album ends, and I actually feel like I’ve been somewhere. A good effort, and certainly worth investigating if you want a satisfying, late-night, immersive experience. Really nice artwork, too!

Resonant Recordings

Simon Proffitt

Simon was born near Clowne, Derbyshire and is now an honorary Welshman. In former guises he has created fake diamonds, developed ultra-high-capacity storage devices and been one half of slow-moving, ├╝ber-pretentious record label Fourier Transform. He now spends his evenings recording silence and banging kitchen utensils.


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