There is something so wonderfully Portishead-like about Phantogram. I dunno if it’s because the Lo-Fi scratchy intro and fuzzy synth pulses and echoing guitar reminds me of ‘Glory Box’, or maybe it’s how Sarah Barthel’s voice has a similar fragile, floaty quality to that of Beth Gibbons, but it might just be ‘cuz I’m just so desperately in need of some trip-hop that when I heard this today I was immediately drawn in by the unique strangeness, the minimal beats and the angelic arc of Sarah’s vocals. Phantogram signed with indie power-label Barsuk Records last fall and their first full-length album, Eyelid Movies, is due out next month. Show ’em some love and head over to MySpace and make friends!
It seems like a million years ago that Portishead released ‘Dummy’…an album that combined tape loops with orchestral flourishes, creepily Gothic synthesizers, electronic beeps & blips and a pure Angel singing the storyline of a tormented, melodramatic nightmare…that quite literally invented ‘Trip-Hop’ and to this day remains an alarming…if intensely paranoid…listening experience. I can still remember shortly after it was released, in the studio on a wintery day in 1995 during a blinding blizzard, I was hitting the ‘repeat’ button all day long listening to Beth Gibbons’ mournfully gloomy vocals again and again and again…my assistants were ready to kill me…..but everybody else in the studio that cold, grey day loved it. The people in front of my camera included (Mrs. Trump of the moment) Marla Maples, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, personal trainer Harry Hanson, Ad-Man Jerry Della Femina and actor, author, dramatist and camp legendCharles Busch…and all of them were diggin’ the dark & murky vibe the intimate collection of songs gave off…..after the shoot I actually sent copies of the album to Marla, Cynthia and Jerry…..
Anyway, this morning, as I was jumping around the music blogs, I stumbled across this unreleased, raw & stripped-down, live session cut of one of the stand-out tracks, Glory Box…and maybe it’s ‘cuz I haven’t cranked up the original in a long time, but the new version brought all those intense feelings back again. Gibbon’s slow bump and grind style…the reedy organ trilling in the background…the haunting wah-wah guitar riffs…..it’s got me floating away in a heroin haze…..