17th March 2017 – Self-release
02. Nadir (Only For The Best)
We first encountered Porshyne on a Mammothfest bill back in 2014. They impressed me enough to include them in my 5 Bands To Watch In 2015 article – but then almost nothing happened. Blast. After maintaining almost complete radio silence throughout most of 2015 and 2016, the Brightonian quintet have returned from the wilderness to release their debut EP Environmental Music. Saints be praised.
Environmental Music is not the very first material that Porshyne have made available, with a small clutch of stand-alone singles floating around on their Bandcamp page. One of the three tracks that comprise Environmental Music, “Hubris“, has already seen the light of day as a live recording, but the three tracks flow so naturally together that it doesn’t especially matter.
With three guitarists in their line-up and keen ears for melody and dynamics, Monolith favourites Sumer are a natural comparison. Whilst there are obvious similarities between the two, there are also enough points of divergence to render any copycat charges null and void. Porshyne’s music, whilst powerful at times, doesn’t have the same metallic edge as Sumer’s. There is more obvious influence of Oceansize or early Radiohead in Porshyne’s sound than Tool or earthtone9. Fans of other melodic prog acts like Karnivool or Dead Letter Circus will also find much to enjoy in Environmental Music.
As with other bands, Sumer included, who have successfully trodden the triple-guitar path, the critical ingredient to Porshyne’s success is discipline. Their intricate sound is built up in layers which, when deconstructed and looked at individually, are all relatively straightforward – its an approach comparable to TesseracT, albeit without the djenty tones. No one instrument, not even Fergal’s arrestingly soulful vocals, are obviously taking the lead, and the rhythm section is clearly every bit as important as the guitars.
All three tracks have their quiet bits and their louder bits, but not in the same proportions and the segues between them feel natural and uncontrived. There are some imaginative uses of texture – a distorted bass tone here, a rhythm tapped out on the drum shells there – which increase the available palette of sounds without the need to heavily rely on a backing track.
It is testament to the quality of these songs that I’m fairly sure I can remember watching Porshyne playing “End“, and it has inhabited a quiet corner of my brain for the best part of eighteen months, waiting for them to emerge from their hiatus. That patience has been solidly rewarded. There is plenty of melodic prog out there to be heard, but Porshyne have managed to carve out a distinctive niche for themselves. Let’s hope this is the start of a long, and productive, road for them.