PORT OF Est.
Category: Synthpop / Electro / Experimental
Album: Onyx Moon
Blurb: Masterful production and an angelic voice combine for a strong debut record from Portland, Maine’s PORT OF Est. Moody but not overly dark; smart and catchy as hell.
A chance meeting at an art studio in Portland, Maine brought together Todd Kitchens and Hannah Tarkinson to form the ethereal PORT OF Est. The golden voiced chanteuse, who takes a page from fellow vocal dynamos Björk and Beth Gibbons, found an inspired connection in the shoegaze and D&B influenced production of Kitchens. The pairing has produced a smoothly crafted piece of electronica that retains a distinctly natural feel as organic and synthetic elements blend seamlessly to serve Tarkinson’s story
Kitchens and Tarkinson conjure a dreamy haze to set the scene for the opener, “Lupine,” with lofty, ringing guitars and breathy vocals. Tarkinson’s lead showcases the elven voiced singer yipping and howling with deft precision, delivering lyrics with a wistful eloquence. The production is intricate yet remarkably tasteful. A warm synth bass line moves beneath the beat like magma under the crust, echoes dancing around the beat trading barbs with snickering hi-hats. The lead single, “Valentine in My Headphones” is irresistibly catchy. The bass lightly warbles beneath her nimble, rhythmic singing. The title not only repeats in the chorus, but on and on in your head weeks after you first listen. “Transparent” has a laidback groove that will get your head nodding. Tarkinson unleashes her voice a little more on this number. Fuzzy synths skip along like a flat rock on a lake. The latter half of the album takes us into the late hours of the night, just before dawn; words between lovers in the early morning. The penultimate, “Sister Wolves” is a formidable anthem with a huge pipe organ and the equally immense voice of Sara Hallie Richardson backing it up. “Kamikaze” rounds out the album with a resigned acceptance as fate falls from the sky.
Onyx Moon takes the listener on a journey through desires and motivations, connections and disconnections, all filtered through the temperance of the duo’s native coastal home. Kitchens’ production reflects the ideas rattling around in one’s head without the jackhammer cacophony that comes along with similar releases that have the big city bearing down on the music. Tarkinson’s voice manages to be simultaneously celestial and soulful; a hard tightrope to walk. With such a strong debut record, PORT OF Est. definitely has a bright future ahead.