Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning show host John Richards, is “the photoshopped prince” by port-royal from the 2009 album dying in time on n5MD.
Built somewhere at the crossroads of Mogwai’s soaring instrumentals and Joy Division’s pop melancholia, Italian born port-royal first saw the light of day in a dark basement somewhere beneath Genoa’s city center. It was here that founding members Attilio Bruzzone and Ettore Roberto (eventually joined by Ettore’s brother Michele on drums), armed only with a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder, a piano and one guitar, began hashing out the ideas that would ultimately inhabit their first EP, Kraken (2002, on Marsiglia Records) and subsequent break-out LP, Flares (2005, on Resonant Recordings).
In the years following their initial releases, port-royal’s core players shifted and reshifted musical gears by way of the usual member juggling, erratically moving between styles — at times burying their post-rock influences beneath a barrage of turbulent house beats and nebulous synth haze — only to peel it all back and discover their shoes still looking quite lovely, often within the same record. While on the surface this may seem troubling, port-royal’s many faces are not the result of rudderless schizophrenia but rather the product of a band steeped in a quest for individuality.
dying in time (on Oakland’s n5MD Records), port-royal’s 2009 follow-up to the ironically titled, ambitiously assembled Afraid to Dance (2007, on Resonant Recordings), finds the band once again layering sounds in a manner that reaches for the sweet-spot between post-rock divinity, introspective pop and it’s-all-good candy-coated accessibility.
“the photoshopped prince” bobs up and down on a blue wave of organic sounds, robotic rhythms (think Octant or Land of the Loops) and laterally swelling, ghostly vocals. Clearly influenced by band’s like Mogwai (CODY era) and Sigur Ros, this track rejects traditionally minimalist post-rock arcs, instead peaking quickly and packing tightly, seeming a sort of panic stricken, asthmatic child of slowcore, techno, house and electronica.
Currently, port-royal has live dates scheduled only in Poland. Keep checking their MySpace page, though, for further updates. For now, here’s the beautifully filmed, bad-dream-on-a-bus new video for “balding generation (losing hair as we lose hope),” another song on the new album: