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Mmm, Orchestral Trip-Hop

Live Roseland NYC
(Go Beat/London)

Four years ago, Portishead hit the scene with their innovative sound and has since practically inspired an entire genre. Along with Tricky's Maxinquaye, their Dummy release gave sexiness a new sound in trip-hop. Unfortunately, it also gave rise to a slew of sound-alikes that have somewhat watered things down.

One of the strange things about the group releasing a live disc is that they've only put out two full-length albums to date. The thing that they really have going for them, though, is that their sound lends well to live improvision, even though there could have been much more of it on this release. Besides stretching out the songs and jamming a little bit more than normal, they have a 30-piece orchestra for a more full sound and two turntables with plenty of scratching. There are eleven songs on the disc and the performance is split fairly evenly between the groups first two releases. The songs off Dummy have recieved greater re-workings, including a rambunctous version of, "Sour Times." Whereas sometimes vocals will stand out as less-than-spectacular, that problem never befalls Beth Gibbons. My only problem with the disc is that the songs all fade down in-between. Normally on a live recording, the disc is nothing more than one continuous track, and it makes for a consistent and cohesive piece, rather than breaking the mood as what happens here. Still, it's a great piece that's essential if you're a fan, and offers an interesting sound for someone wanting to get into the genre.

Rating: 7