‘Ominous’ is likely to sit somewhere beyond the crossroads of peace and chaos. Musically, it is an area that is seldom traversed by artists. Yet this is where Copenhagen’s Town Portal spend a lot of their time, wandering amidst the quadrants of the intersection. In their sophomore effort, The Occident, the instrumental math rock trio continue their meander and bring a record that builds strength to the premise.
The Occident is an eight track course, and names like ‘Eschaton’ (the end of the Divine world) and ‘K.’ (the ill-fated protagonist of Franz Kafka’s The Trial) bear some suggestion as to the unsettling territory Town Portal have intended to musically charter. The consistent balance between harmony and disharmony, a recurrent motif across their ouevre, is ever present here. In ‘Dream Bureau’ and ‘Moon Treaty’ tranquil major chord melodies quickly turn sour and sombre. In ‘World Core And Peripheral Islands’, sweeping guitar phrases are counterbalanced with deep, brooding bass lines. This delectably sweet but fiercely spicy taste on the tongue forms an essential corpuscle of Town Portal’s anatomy, one that has undergone little variation after three albums but has still held them afloat. As musicians Town Portal have, by and large, never compromised this distinct sound with excessive virtuosity or lavish digital effects but, rather, relied on the potency of the melodies and counter-melodies to narrate the stories they wish to tell.
In a way this was everything I expected. Like its predecessors, The Occident carves out a bleak yet idyllic, hopeful yet undeniably ominous, narrative. Town Portal haven’t bridged any gaps or transcended any norms; they had already done that long ago when they released Vacuum Horror. In The Occident, the trio give their blueprints more rigidity and further refine their distinct sonic identity. They already have a torch, and its burning brighter than ever before.
Metal, instrumental, math rock, post-rock, prog, dark