I’ve only ever seen them once and I know for sure it’s not near enough. Back when I saw them for that one time, was when I found out that Portishead was a town just west of Bristol, that you could fit 19 people in a van, that trip hop can have melodic dub parts and that the voice of Beth Gibbons hits you like a bomb, whether you’re listening to her live or on record. It all started with “Dummy” in 1994 and everyone starts and eventually comes back to this, as their debut record remains unforgettable. Even though they released three more albums after it, “Dummy” is still their crowning moment, the shadowy, black clad figure of Beth Gibbons at the center of it, holding on to the microphone with cupped hands, singing into it with her heart torn vocals and giving you goose bumps. Gibbons is exactly what she seems, exactly what she looks like in her photographs and then there is Geoff Barrow, the band’s drummer and producer who handles their interviews. It constitutes a peculiar agreement between the two, as they each handle the duties the other one hates or cannot handle. Formed in 1991, over time they added Adrian Utley on bass, guitar and keyboard duties and sound engineer Dave McDonald. After a ten year journey together, the band split, only to be re-united further down the road and continue on their trip hop, jazz influenced path. With the same sources of guilt, the same feeling of loneliness and ultimately the same moments of climax. This year, my path has changed. The streets around me are different. I move around a different part of town, I cross different avenues, turn down different alleyways, walk on different sidewalks, find new pitfalls, set new waypoints, wait at other bus stops. And it feels like I’ve finally found my way. Ultimately, I realize that the journey itself holds little meaning for me, the roads hold little meaning as well. The only thing that’s important is coming back home every night.
Text: Anastasia Papachristou