Sunday, April 28, 2013


Portishead returned after ten years with the unsettling clatter and mysteriously mermerizing melancholy madness of their tertiary treatise.  'Third' was produced by the band with Geoff Barrow on drums; Beth Gibbons on vocals; and Adrian Utley on guitars and synths.  The trio was spent with the whirlwind that followed their eponymous second album and a live document from that tour, 'Roseland NYC Live'.  

Barrow recalls:  "After we got back and mixed the live album we didn't really get together for six years ... It wasn't that we weren't speaking. But Beth got ill and moved back to Devon for a while. I got divorced, and we all worked on a few solo projects ... We manage ourselves and we have complete control. We're in the lucky position where we're consulted on everything and if we don't want to do something we don't have to do it...We really wanted to sound like ourselves but not sound like ourselves. It was always going to be difficult.
Once we had 'We Carry On'-- that was a good moment. And we already had 'Magic Doors', which was more related to things that we've done in the past...After the second album, all the doors were closed. It felt like we'd hit this Lara Croft moment where basically none of the keys work and every door is fucking locked! And you think, but there must be a key! I've got find this fucking key. And that's almost the reason that we stopped. It seemed like, fucking hell, where do we go?...Over the years it just seemed like there were cracks in the door, whether that came from hearing new music that you really liked or just like talking or whatever was in your life. And now it feels like it's all open...[It wasn't] crate digging in the traditional, hip-hop sense, but absolutely searching for inspiration in old music, new music, wherever it might be. My mate's got a record shop down near where I live, and I'd go in there and pick some stuff up. And there'd be a chord, and we'd bring it up. We had a couple of tunes like that...It definitely doesn't have the pop element [of] 'Dummy', but there's a lot of people out there that want interesting music. And if we can be one of those bands that they can rely on to deliver that then that's fantastic."  

Utley considers:   "We burnt ourselves out in '98.  It's the reason we weren't interested in doing Portishead because we just absolutely went too much ... We were absolutely thrashed as well from touring and going through the experience of the second record and doing the New York thing. It was just bang bang bang. All the creativity just drained...And you don't want to do it then. You don't want to face up to that challenge...Referencing and grabbing stuff is difficult. If I listen to something too much I can't get away from it, I can't do anything. I don't want to steal it! Like Neil Young's 'Dead Man' soundtrack-- I don't want to listen to it because I'll just nick it because it's so fucking brilliant. It's better to feel the haze of it through listening to it once...and work things out, or be inspired and talk and move on. It's an initial spark...I always loved 'Magic Doors'. We came up with it one afternoon, and everything seemed to change, in the kind of miniscule way that we change. And we become slightly hopeful that there might be a crack that we could push our finger through and say, 'Let's have a look in here' ... Every single thing was absolutely agonized over.  For everything you hear, there were at least 10 things that we spent fucking hours making that we didn’t use — a real voyage of discovery. Sometimes it was enjoyable, but mostly it’s kind of frustrating and difficult. The process of creativity is not always what you think. You are surrounded by the most beautiful equipment, but it doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t got an idea that is worth recording. You could record through the worst preamp with the worst microphone in the world, but [whether you have] a good idea is the most important thing. If you don’t have an idea, it’s better to go to a house in the country with a porta-studio and any old guitar just to purify your mind. Having amazing equipment doesn’t give you the solution to creativity; it’s merely a tool for recording it.”

The illusive Gibbons has revealed:    "I still don't like doing interviews. I hardly do any...I hope this will be the last one for a long while...I am a very sensitive person, very impulsive and emotional...I thought I had a clear picture of death, but now I know it's a mystery and it will always be a mystery, although it is something we all have in common: everybody knows that life ends with death...I try to imagine how we would live if we didn't know we were going to die. Would we live our lives differently? Less careful, maybe? Less scared? These are beautiful things to think about and build a song around...The music comes first. When Geoff has made something the inspiration comes automatically. His music is very expressive. But still is is a very difficult process: I have to add something to his music, not push it away. It has to be equal, and I find that very difficult."

'Third' hit number thirty in Mexico; twenty-eight in Japan; eighteen in Sweden; sixteen in Spain; nine in Australia, Finland, and New Zealand; eight in Italy; seven the US; six in Germany and the Netherlands; five in Portugal; four in Austria; three in Belgium and France; and number two in Denmark, Greece, Switzerland, and the UK.  

"Silence"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 4:58

"Hunter"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 3:57

"Nylon Smile"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 3:16

NYLON SMILE from stephane Cocke on Vimeo.

"The Rip"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 4:29

"Plastic"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 3:27

"We Carry On"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 6:27

"Deep Water"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 1:31

"Machine Gun" (Barrow/Gibbons) – 4:43

Portishead - Machine Gun from Mintonfilm on Vimeo.

"Small"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 6:45

"Magic Doors" (Barrow/Gibbons/John Baggot) – 3:32

"Threads"  (Barrow/Gibbons/Utley) – 5:45

'Third'  full album:

Third from Portishead on Myspace.

All songs written and composed by Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons and Adrian Utley except where noted. 

1. "Silence"   4:58
2. "Hunter"   3:57
3. "Nylon Smile"   3:16
4. "The Rip"   4:29
5. "Plastic"   3:27
6. "We Carry On"   6:27
7. "Deep Water"   1:31
8. "Machine Gun" (Barrow / Gibbons) 4:43
9. "Small"   6:45
10. "Magic Doors" (Barrow / Gibbons / John Baggot) 3:32
11. "Threads"   5:45

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