Thursday, August 29, 2019

Sour times

Amid all of the column inches devoted to retrospective appraisals of Parklife and Definitely Maybe (let's face it, you only really need Taylor Parkes' 2014 piece on the former), it's good to see some recognition of another LP celebrating its 25th birthday this year, Portishead's Dummy. Jude Rogers' Observer interview with the band's Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley is worth a look for their comments about Nils Frahm alone.

Personally speaking, I was also interested in their cynical perspective on their home city. Here in Cardiff, Bristol is often seen as superior in terms of art, culture and food, but Barrow and Utley are scathing about the gentrification of St Pauls and point to the city's darker side - principally the fact that it was built on the back of slavery and racism.

Like Barrow and Utley, I remain utterly mystified how Dummy was ever categorised as a chillout album - it's as bleak as they come, offering precious little comfort in the dark. The contrast with the boorish laddy jingoism of Britpop couldn't have been more stark, and Rogers is absolutely right to hail it as a pioneering precursor to Boards Of Canada, Burial and the Ghost Box sound.

Tantalisingly, there are vague hints of renewed band activity. If the outcome is even half as good as their 2016 cover of ABBA's 'SOS' (recorded for the High Rise soundtrack), then we're in for a treat - albeit one that fits the current moment in being chilly rather than cheery.

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