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Dummy

Portishead

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iTunes Review

Portishead's debut album Dummy represents one of the finest, freshest releases of the '90s. Its film noir schematic, its stuttering breakbeats, its danceable yet experimental leanings, its sexual tension provided chillingly by singer Beth Gibbons-all were perfectly blended by Geoff Barrow's intuitive ability to never lean too heavy in any one musical direction. (Before hooking up with Gibbons, Barrow worked as a tape operator for Massive Attack and producer for Tricky, two acts that Portishead learned much from.) Shortly after its release, "Sour Times" became the unexpected hit, an oft-kilter spy film soundtrack pledge of alienated love fueled by strangulated guitar riffs (provided by former Jazz Messenger Adrian Utley), understated turntable samples and keyboard washes that slipped gothic motifs into its decadent nightclub setting. The rest of the album is just as satisfying. "It Could Be Sweet," "Wandering Star," and "It's A Fire" all work similar ground with hypnotic results.

Customer Reviews

Timeless, amazing music.

It's been eleven years since this album was released, but it didn't (and doesn't) belong to 1994 at all. This is music without an era. Portishead's Dummy evokes a timeless, melancholic urge that leaves you feeling both haunted and satisfied at the same time. Weaving in obscure samples from who-knows-when and god-knows-what, the group gets it just right in every song. "It Could Be Sweet," my favorite track from the album, is half hip-hop, half-smoky-lounge, with a beat that (trust me) gets attention in a car system, but gets even more from its intelligent lyrics and Beth Gibbons' haunting voice. Other tracks, like the appropriately named "Sour Times" and "Numb," grab your mood and twist it several different directions at the same time. "Nobody loves me, it's true / Not like you do." These are lyrics that Garbage's Shirley Manson only wishes she could pull off convincingly. But Beth does it with dangerous clarity, hitting a nerve in this listener that both satisfies and stings. This album is a must have for people who have complicated reactions to music. If you like _feeling_ your music, Portishead will stay in your iPod for a long, long time. Indeed, Dummy is one of my favorites.

Atmospheric & Beautiful

If I had a nickel for every time this CD of mine "disappeared" from my collection, then I could retire right now. No, this is not a confession or forum for me to complain about kleptomaniac friends and lovers; it's a testimony to how seductive and beautiful this album was in 1994 and remains today. The first three tracks are my favourites, and this album is always the perfect one to set the mood you-know-where. Timeless, haunting, sexy, and beautiful.

A Seminal Trip-Hop Recording

Portishead may not have began trip-hop, but for me they defined it with this landmark disc. I'm still amazed that after all these years, Dummy is still my all time favorite album. It's not surprising that their music has withstood the test of time, as contemporary artists of the genre sample from Portishead songs every now and again. If you've never heard of trip-hop, then do yourself a favor and listen to Portishead's sublime mixture of downtempo beats, ochestral accompaniment, jazz influences, sampling and scratching, and ethereal vocals. Or if you're like me, get all excited about them again on a high-end home theatre system!

Biography

Formed: 1991 in Bristol, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Portishead may not have invented trip-hop, but they were among the first to popularize it, particularly in America. Taking their cue from the slow, elastic beats that dominated Massive Attack's Blue Lines and adding elements of cool jazz, acid house, and soundtrack music, Portishead created an atmospheric, alluringly dark sound. The group wasn't as avant-garde as Tricky, nor as tied to dance traditions as Massive Attack; instead, it wrote evocative pseudo-cabaret pop songs that subverted their conventional...
Full Bio

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