Maverick session musician branches out with a sprawling double LP. It's an adventurous trip, expect the unexpected!
It's not often an record truly surprises you but this risk-taking gem has it all. Brimming with the sum of a myriad of musical influences, Songs From The Portal is a sprawling, playful mind-map of arcane musical avenues, recalling the best of '60s into '70s psych/prog, outré pop, Tropicália along with the odd foray into middle eastern scales and time signatures. Wright's love and enthusiasm for all things psychedelic shines through. From Os Mutantes to Aphrodite's Child, the influences are there though all presented with an arty playfulness that's sadly lacking from a lot of other modern psych records.
This is no re-hashed retro trip though, there's nothing predictable about this album, you just can't second guess it. It's the sonic equivalent of routing through a well-stocked olde curiosity shoppe, unearthing sounds and rhythms you'd forgotten about or never even knew existed. Wright has sifted through all manner of musical bric-a-brac and objet trouvé, and curated them in his own unique manner. It's an album that's not afraid to take risks, and while you may not like every song, (there are twenty one of them after all), you have to admire the far-reaching ambition.
There are surprising twists and turns along the way. Along with the ever present psych and prog feel you journey through piano jazz (Jam At Jim's), spaghetti western mariachi (Uncle John (Why Are You Crying?)), and the channelling of some musical greats – early Bowie on Hipgnomes, and David Axelrod on Hypnotist to mention just two. It's Wright's own personality and expertise that reigns supreme though. His wide-reaching musicality combined with a sense of fun are perhaps best represented on the opening track A Tap On The Shoulder. It's a spooky, supernatural tale complete with a bizarre and infectious late lyrical flourish. Vinyl-heads will be pleased to know there's a limited double LP version available. Buy with confidence, trust me, I just know you'll like it.