Why Portishead Still Matters

RJ Wheaton is interviewed by Anupa Mistry in the Toronto Standard about “Why Portishead Still Matters” ahead of their live shows in Toronto this weekend. A sampling:

They combined music in a way everyone is replicating now—without the help of YouTube or
Portishead spent years refining their unique combinatory approach to music. “Barrow’s biggest inspiration was hip-hop, and same with Utley although he came from a jazz background,” Wheaton points out. “And Beth doesn’t come from a soul, R&B or jazz background; she did a lot of new wave stuff with a singer-songwriter bent.” This very real mix made Portishead so distinctive. Wheaton feels trip-hop’s packaging forced musicians away from the “fertile ground” of a great moment in experimentation between electronic music and production techniques, with genres like lover’s rock and dub and reggae and hip-hop. Danger Mouse, of Gnarls Barkley fame, has clearly nerded out on Portishead’s production techniques—a casual listener can hear it in his dense atmospherics. It has thinned out traces in James Blake and Toronto’s The Weeknd. More than anything, says Wheaton, it’s licensed people to bring influences together they normally wouldn’t.

Click here to read an excerpt of Wheaton’s 33 1/3 on Portishead’s Dummy… and here to buy a copy. (or you could go to your friendly neighborhood bookshop!)

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