Portugal. The Man

It's Complicated Being A Wizard EP

Written by: PP on 21/03/2007 00:40:12

Not only does Portugal. The Man write some of the strangest, weirdest indie rock/electronica you can find in this universe, but they want to make my life as a reviewer even more complicated by releasing an "EP" over 45 minutes long spread across ten tracks, the first of which outlasts 23 minutes and the rest of which apparently are one whole song, just divided into nine pieces. Confused yet? I don't blame ya, but there's much more to come on this EP/album/whatever.

Everyone who had a listen to their previous full length "Waiter: You Vultures!" will remember the band from their inconceivable will of experimentation and their seemingly neverending thirst to explore all possible dimensions of their music - even those one didn't think even existed. But it's not like Portugal. The Man will ever go heavy or even hard on you, quite the opposite in fact. While the band can sometimes get slightly rocky with short guitar-driven passages, a large majority of the music on this record is much slower and softer than on its predecessor, more suitable for late nights in bed rather than those energy-boosts you might need in the morning hours.

It's the genius use of repeating drum sequences, silent faded back soothing passages and the excessive use of abstract sound effects that makes the band and this EP what is is - possibly the best indie record I have heard. Ever. Gourley's distinctly high pitched dreamy vocals travel incredible distances in the vast soundscapes that truly re-define the meaning of vast. This is achieved through the keyboard experimentation and electronic samples from their tracks, wich form the core around tracks 2-10 on this album, where it's not uncommon to suddenly think "wait a minute, didn't I heard this a few tracks ago?" and just freeze in awe-inspiration over how the band has fused together over 45 minutes of music in such perfection. The use of drum machines and other special effects is hidden so well below the surface that you'll often find yourself wondering whether or not a sequence is a sample or real, whether or not those sounds came from the guitar or not, and just how the hell Gourley is able to carry his voice so softly in such a high range with so little effort.

There are far too many aspects on this EP/album to fit into just a single review and perhaps it's better if I don't go into too much detail here either, because at least for myself, discovering all the small details and how they are a part of a bigger picture in this musically conceptual album is part of the Portugal. The Man experience. It's easy to lose hundreds of hours of your spare time just trying to understand the album fully, but I don't think full comprehension will ever be possible. Listening to "It's Complicated Being A Wizard EP" makes The Sounds Of Animals Fighting sound amateurish and straight-forward. Prepare yourself for the most avant-garde, sonically inspiring and undoubtedly one of the absolutely best releases this year. Don't miss it!

Download: Opal Magic
For the fans of: The Sounds Of Animals Fighting, Circa Survive, Bear Vs Shark
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.02.2007
Public Music Records

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