Music: Roly Porter – Kistvaen (Subtext, 2020)

The Bristol based composer returned with a new album on Subtext Records. It‘s about 4 years since his last stellar record „Third Law“. That‘s a long time period but does it have any effects in style or sound? The short answer to this question is no, in a very good way. Porter again delivers a complex, dark toned and sub-bass heavy ambient record.

Roly Porter’s fourth solo record “Kistvaen” takes his name from a type of granite tomb found predominantly in Dartmoor, Southwestern England, these kistvaens were often found covered in the mound of earth and stone. The record describes excavating stories and images of ancient burial rituals. For the first time Porter takes the help of three different vocalists: Mary-Anne Roberts – from medieval Welsh music duo Bragod, Ellen Southern – of Bristol’s Dead Space Chamber Music group and Phil Owen – a singer and researcher in vocal traditions. Background vocals are more prominent then ever on “Kistvaen”. The opening track “Assembly” tells us why. It’s starts with lamented voices to conjure a ritual in an unusual oriental style. If you know the past records from Porter you might be a bit surprised. Without the record creation process in mind it’s difficult to catch these elements. The second track “Burial” is more Porter typically in kind of style. The massive drone and sub-bass is all over the place. It’s raw, oppressive and uncomfortable! The last section of track has a beautiful and sad arranged string part. An unexpected but great fade out. “An Open Door” was the first sign from “Kistvaen” back in April. It’s starts with a piano and hall vocals. Later on some drone elements catches up. It fades perfectly into “Inflation Field” with a sirene styled drone intro. There are massive distortion parts and a threatening atmosphere. It ends with a floating sad melody. “Passage” started again more silent and calm. It shines with a mystery atmosphere. Very intense, emotional and sad until a massive drone distortion kicks in. There is a massive peak in here! Clearly one of the highlight of the record. Everything comes to an emotional peak with “Kistvaen” the tite track. It’s a very beautiful and intense outro of a fantastic record! For me “Kistvaen” takes a bit of time to shine, but with the record creation process in mind everything makes totally sense. Compared to his last record it’s way more flawless. It’s not that aggressive and exhausting like the predecessor but with “Kistvaen”, Porter has develped his music a further step forward.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Dominik Scheuring

I'm living and working in Hamburg, Germany. My interests are all about music, movies, and traveling. I also do some typical sport activities like fitness, running and swimming.

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