Portrayal is a completely underrated band, dreamy but with a serrated edge hidden just beneath the lush surface. The duo, Rob Tranter on Guitars, Bass, Synths etc and Joe Crook holding down Vocals, Lyrics, Guitars, hails from Shrewsbury UK and are putting out some of the most pleasingly hypnotic songs around. They have released two albums to date. The first one was To The Black Sea. The track “Rooms” popped out as a standout with its heady reverb and sweetly melodic vocals. Their masterful at combining the heft of shoegazing ascension and the smooth rush and spiraling post punk vibe. Another standout on this sophisticated debut is the completely underwater-sounding instrumental “Out of the Light” which carries some heavy Derbyshire echoes.
The second album, Lost Souls, dropped last year to critical acclaim. The title track undulates with that special type of quick rippling guitar effect that never fails to send chills. The duo likes to focus on melody and structure, and it is evident in this song’s cinematic and pulsing sweep that just begs to run over the closing credits of indie romance flicks everywhere. The track “Universal Libraries” is a slow churner that will stay with you long after the last chords. The last track, “Departures”, is an off-kilter mini epic which attains a hard fought grace by the mid-point and glides the record on to a fitting end.
I highly recommend you give them a listen. Here is what the lads had to say:
Hi there, thank you for taking time to answer some of my burning questions.
So you are a duo now after being in other bands. Duos seem like a rarity these days. I like a good duo! How did you come to form your current project? How did you develop your unique sound?
After we’d first mooted the idea we got together and started working up some ideas but songs started coming quickly and we liked the music and vocal mix. We tend to create a soundscape with guitar riffs, pedals, synths and effects but then we shape it into something more structured as it goes along, and introduce more dynamics and areas for vocals. So its very much led by the sound initially rather than a straight traditional song, in general.
I see sight David Lynch as an influence. And your music definitely has elements of cinematic qualities. Tell me about your songwriting and recording process?
We’re big film fans and listen to quite alot of soundtracks, plus Joe was classically trained so it perhaps comes through in the music which is great. Usually Rob has worked up alot of layers which we then start creating sections and a structure from, and then begin dropping vocals in. We do everything in our home studios which perhaps allows us some freedom to come back to things over a longer time period.. a good and bad thing!
Post punk is a lost art I think but I am drawn to that type of atmospheric music. It takes one out of their reality even for only the length of a song. Some of the best came of the UK. How do you view the contemporary post punk scene?
Well there is a really great array of post punk bands that we’re finding at the moment, seems to be some great music in the genre that isn’t just ‘joy division lite’, its quite unique. Bands like Preoccupations, Moaning, Holygram, Fews and Black Marble to name a few.
The song “Lost Souls” is both haunting and foreboding but still lush. A beautiful song really. How did you come to write it?
It came about really really quickly, both in terms of music and vocals. The first version was done in a week or so and only needed final vocal takes. Its one we’re really pleased with.
How do you develop your song structures? What is you song writing and recording process like?
We’ve probably covered this above?
I was checking out your social media, and you seem to have gotten wonderful reception to your music. How do you feel social media affects the music world today? I laugh because I can’t even imagine “tweeting” at Bob Dylan or say one of my favorite bands, Gomez, back in the day.
Ah Gomez. great band! Its been so important for us at least, and means you have that direct connection with listeners, perfect when you get little exposure through the ‘normal’ channels. That said there is a hell of a lot of bands about so getting people to listen, and standing out, is difficult for most bands.
Do you perform live shows?
We haven’t yet.a number of reasons why but hopefully we will one day soon.
The art work for your albums fits nicely with your music. How did you come to choose the minimalist designs? I love it really. I am not a fan of too much “busyness” on cover art.
Thanks! Yes I don’t know if we consciously did it but we perhaps like a ‘less is more’ approach sometimes. Also we used to love those Ride covers in the early days, ‘Nowhere’ era, so that might have fed into it a bit too.
What music do you both listen to currently? Any female performers that you could recommend?
Joe: I have Fog Lake’s Captain and the Moaning album on repeat atm.. in terms of female singers can recommend Tempers who i discovered recently, and a very big fan of Victoria Legrand from Beach House (who isn’t).
Rob: I’ve been listening to a lot of the new BEAK and Low albums. The atmosphere created on the new Low one is immense and gives a real sense of foreboding throughout. A female vocalist I’ve been really into lately is Kathryn Joseph, her latest one is brilliant.
Last, what is a fun fact about you guys that is unrelated to music?
One of us has been to Thom Yorke’s house and one of us will have designed a website you’ve visited.