Thursday, 25 June 2009
Portraits of Past - 01010101 (1995)
Portraits of Past were a Bay Area emo band active between the years 1993 and 1995, recently having also played a series of reunion shows across the United States. Most people familiar with the band's name know them for the bands that their members went on to form - the seminal screamo group Funeral Diner and the more recently formed ...Who Called So Loud who have been gaining quite a bit of momentum in the hardcore scene in the past couple of years. Portraits of Past are arguably not just a great band in their own right, but perhaps even more important than those two in terms of influence and just how ahead of their time they were. Both the aforementioned bands that their members were involved in are not known for being particularly chirpy, so it comes as little surprise that Portraits of Past dealt in very dark, brooding, lengthy and bludgeoningly intense pieces, essentially laying down the blueprint for every "screamo" band to come in a time when the term hadn't even been coined.
01010101 is heavy stuff. The bass rumbles like huge looming storm clouds rolling in over the horizon, the singer and drummer sound possessed, and, when they reach full force, the guitar riffs sound like they could cause fissures in the ground. One of the things this band excels at is being able to maintain an intoxicatingly dark atmosphere and sense of melody throughout their music despite alternating between chaotic frenzies and drawn-out dirges and having an impressive dynamic range (sometimes even sounding, god forbid, pretty.) Perhaps due to the fact that their music sounds startlingly different to their peers at the time and yet far rougher and rawer than anything the bands that followed them created, this feels like a refreshingly unique record. Despite the intensely depressing downward-spiralling quality of the music, which can affect replay value a bit, this is definitely one of the most killer emotional hardcore records to come out of the 90s.
Portraits of Past - 01010101