If the Floydian teaser of the albums first release The Fuzz and All That They Feed promised great things, even the high musical benchmarks that Port Erin have already set for themselves didn’t quite hint at just what a musical gem they had created. They have often proved that they are a band capable of exploring, expanding and exploding in many directions, often simultaneously; effortlessly fusing genres that have no business rubbing shoulders into new musical worlds. But even after a string of impressive albums to date, this is the one where you just have to stand back and recognise that things have moved into an altogether different league.
I can’t help thinking that a year reflecting on the loss of David Bowie and the delivery of what would prove to be his final musical statement has somehow found it’s way into the DNA of this album. The plaintive and melancholic cry of “Here we are again” in Just Like TV comes like some call from beyond the grave as slow funk jams and rock dynamics swirl around creating the perfect musical storm. But as always, if he is in there, he is far from alone.
The title track, which they save as the albums swansong, has a wonderful post-punk feel to it, the sound of a recently unearthed, long misplaced 4AD band that got lost in the archives – taut and taunting, enhanced by sumptuous vocals, distant brass attacks and chord crescendo’s playing the part of the crashing waves.
But it isn’t all subtlety and suppleness; Chaos In The Streets sees them play their rock card but even this they shade with clever musical hues. Its claustrophobic nature and power keg vibe is a far cry from most of the foot on the monitor rock clichés that still seem to plague the genre. It twists and turns, creaks and cracks and is filled with dark glamour and pent up energy.
As always though the joy of Port Erin’s music is in the detail and the way they cut and splice, weave and sew the different sounds into gossamer textures and underplayed layers so that even when there is a myriad of instruments being juggled with, they all do just enough, get blended perfectly and never become more important than the over all track. Pastoral watercolours being mixed and blended into new tones, water down, blended again; shifting and ephemeral.
But even when you have all this music to paint with, what it comes down to is three fantastic and imaginative musicians and the choices that they make. Choices that avoid the obvious and opt for skittering jazz beats and high end pulsing bass, funky guitar undertones, drifting ambience and never being afraid to leave room for the listener’s own senses to fill in the gaps. Choices that most bands wouldn’t even know are an option.