Label: Real World Records / Imagem Release date: Out now! Website: Portico Quartet on Myspace If you don’t dig it already, Portico Quartet are the group to turn you on to jazz. Four young south london lads who describe their stunning sound as ‘post-jazz made by indie-kids’, difficult second album Isla refines the earlier efforts of Knee Deep In The North Sea and steers the group into darker, more accomplished territory. Portico Quartet now stand at the forefront of left-field jazz and at the brink of mainstream acceptance; the question is, will they be split between two fronts or conquer both? Album opener ‘Paper Scissors Stone’ makes it abundantly clear that PQ intend to blaze their own musical trail, in the best possible way. Perhaps most noticeable as regards their instrumentation is Nick Mulvey’s oft-noted Hang, a 21st century tuned percussion instrument that sounds like a cross between a marimba, a steel drum and a xylophone. Either way it instantly adds a fresh tint to the otherwise solidly traditional jazz set up of double bass (Milo Fitzpatrick), sax (Jack Wyllie) and drums (Duncan Bellamy). The quartet’s merits don’t end at having an unusual sound. This is music beautiful, measured and frequently hypnotic. They don’t shy away from dissonant free form or more traditional passages, but as a whole their claims to ‘post-jazz’ seem legitimate; theirs is a style that has more in common with Jaga Jazzist and to a lesser extent Efterklang, than it does John McLaughlin or Acoustic Ladyland. Portico Quartet, absorbingly brilliant at Loop Festival earlier this year There are moments of soft contemplation, most noticeable in ‘Life Mask Interlude’ that are scattered throughout the more frenetic segments that keep the pacing urgent but never relentless. There are melodies such as the opening lines of ‘Clipper’ that are hook laden and accessible. Then the moments of squawking sax and the closest thing to pounding a Hang can come to elevate the album into something a little more primal, more visceral as well. Ultimately, Portico Quartet have used the tools available to them to create a gorgeous, progressive jazz album with a difference; the introduction of the Hang, combined with their highly modern interpretation of disparate influences ensures breakthrough to a seriously unique sound. Isla should and can be enjoyed by most everyone, in what represents one of the only, and certainly the most recent successful attempts at making instrumental jazz relevant, modern and bloody exciting. Rating: 8.5/10 Portico Quartet - Cittagazze