Turning twenty years old next month, I think it’s safe to say I’ve grown up surrounded by technologically heavy, meticulously produced music that is constantly attempting to break free of the bounds of its musical predecessors, perpetually seeking to push sounds further and further with computers making this possible with their seemingly endless amount of sounds and opportunities. However, with this being said, when I sat down and listened to Robert Portman’s debut solo release, A Wolf At the Door, I started to wonder whether I had missed out on something great by being born so late. I was immediately transported to an era of music that I wasn't even around to witness, and due to the overwhelming authenticity that Portman employs, I felt like I was actually there.
The album starts out with a slow, throbbing kick drum, soon followed by ambient wolf howls, immediately casting a mysterious, placid aura. The next tune, titled “Feel the Same,” ceases the mystique that the opener created, shifting me into a comfortable, relaxing state that I couldn’t help but cross my legs, act like I was holding a cigar and a glass of gin, and tap my foot.
Portman’s voice is remarkable— gentle yet emotional, serene yet impassioned. I can certainly imagine putting this on over a nice dinner, possibly with some close friends and a bottle of wine (don’t tell anyone), and laughing the night away. You can tell right off the bat that Portman is an old soul. When listening to his vocal approach, I sensed that he has experienced many things in his life, setting out upon many emotional journeys to suddenly find himself in a state of contentment and mitigation. Of course this is strictly conjecture, however the fact that the vocals evoked so much imagery and inference on my part adds to Portman’s credibility.
As far as the music is concerned, the first word that sprung to my mind was genuine. It reeks of authenticity, ranging from the vintage production quality to Portman’s sedated vocal delivery. I found it remarkable how properly the vocals matched the instrumentation and vice versa. Songs such as “How It Goes” and “Somewhere” are excellent examples of this. In “A Good Girl Is Hard to Find” and “Werewolf” Portman utilizes fiddles, purely adding to the old-school vibe of the album.
The instrumentation on the album is very solid as well, playing in the pocket beautifully, allowing Portman’s vocals to shine through despite their tranquility. The lyrics found within the album are longing, searching for the fulfillment that being with the anonymous, constantly referenced third person would bring to Portman. I also found it satisfying how well the lyrics reflected the mood of each song, permitting every tune the legitimacy it deserves.
The last piece on the album, titled "Sweet Dreams", although (mostly) instrumental, is perhaps the most emotional work of art on A Wolf At the Door, conveying a lullaby effect that put me in a trance. However, just when I thought the song was over, delicately fading out, I was surprisingly presented with a new spurt of music with vocals fading back in singing, “Bye bye, I gotta great big heart / But it always seems to fall apart / And I shoulda known it from the start….,” bringing the album to a close, tying everything together once more.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook