Portishead’s Beth Gibbons’ Performance With the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Will Finally See Release
It actually doesn’t seem like 25 years ago – but with the release of Portishead‘s landmark 1994 debut album Dummy, they essentially clinched “trip-hop” as its own zeitgeist-storming genre. Within a few years, literally dozens of bands popped up (Remember Mono? Esthero?) attempting to capitalize on the dark, sensual new sound.
Now fellow Bristolians Massive Attack are setting out on a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their exalted Mezzanine album; and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons has resurfaced to blow our minds in a whole amazing new way. Indeed, her last project found her linking up with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, as conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki, for Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs). Which certainly is hardly a surprise – considering Portishead’s well-documented mastery of musical melancholy and lamentation.
Oddly enough, the performance actually took place November 29, 2014 at Warsaw’s National Opera Grand Theatre – and four-plus years later, Domino is at last making both the audio and video recordings available, with a release date for DVD, CD and vinyl (as well as deluxe editions for the latter two) set for March 29.
Gibbons nobly overcame a couple of significant challenges to be a part of the momentous performance. First, the part was actually written for a soprano, and Beth’s voice would best be classified as contralto. Second, and most importantly, as a Brit, she obviously did not speak Polish – and so took on the monumental task of learning the part in the abstruse Slavic language.
There’s a terrific interactive website, to keep fans entertained until the springtime release. As for Portishead – within which Gibbons shares membership with Geoff Barrow – in typically enigmatic fashion, little is known about their possible plans for 2019.