Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Portraits Of Past


Portraits Of Past were a five-piece post-hardcore/screamo band that came and went from 1994-1995, but reunited from 2008-2010. They were from San Francisco, California. Despite their very brief existence, this band has become a staple in any discussion surrounding their respective genres. They, along with many of their contemporaries on Ebullition and Gravity Records, helped define a sound in which the influence of is still felt today. One can't help but listen modern bands like We Were Skeletons, The Saddest Landscape etc. and hear the Portraits Of Past worship. What made this band so distinct were its undeniable talents. Their vocals were shrieked, and most of all, desperate. Screaming lines such as "there's a few truths, and here's just one: I'm as fucked up, about as much as you are fucked up" gives me chills every time. The guitar work is unbelievable. The guitars lace together with trebly, melodic tones to construct melodies, while making full use of octave chords and occasionally harmonics. The guitars are sharp and play tightly together, which was briefly introduced by Drive Like Jehu years before and would continue to be employed by bands like Q And Not U and Hot Cross later on. The bass and drums created such a tight rhythm section. The bass tone rumbles low, and the drums get technical without losing focus. The songs that they constructed were often lengthier and more complex than their contemporaries. They built songs up, let them peak, and let them come down. This is similar to the soft/loud/soft dynamic that Indian Summer employed, but Portraits Of Past stepped it up a notch. They would do it more than once in songs, going from chaotic frenzies to quiet, melodic patterns, and back again without warning. Their music was incredibly impressive and diverse for the time, thus why they are easily one of the best bands in their genre.

Their initial existence was brief, and all they put out was a demo, a split, and two compilation songs while they were together. A year after their breakup, their only album, 01010101, came out. Fast forward to 2008, and they reunited to play numerous shows, which extended from 2008 to 2009. They were also playing new songs at this time, which eventually became a new EP in 2009, Cypress Dust Witch. Following the release of that EP though, they've been inactive. Enjoy.

1. Journeyman
2. NYC
3. A Known Place
4. The Song With Slow Part
5. Stiff Upper
6. Bleed
7. Bent Up

1. Portraits Of Past - Journeyman
2. Portraits Of Past - A Known Place
3. Bleed - Mr. Elliott
4. Bleed - Past-Tense Hero

1. KQED Equals Volvo
2. Bang Yer Head
3. The Control Freak
4. Implications Of A Sinkhole Personality
5. The Outlook Is Bleak
6. Snicker Snicker
7. Something Less Than Intended

1. KQED Equals Volvo
2. Bang Yer Head
3. The Control Freak
4. Implications Of A Sinkhole Personality
5. The Outlook Is Bleak
6. Snicker Snicker
7. Something Less Than Intended
8. Sticks Together
9. The Song With The Slow Part
10. Journeyman
11. A Known Place
12. KQED Equals Volvo (Live)
13. Bang Yer Head (Live)
14. Something Less Than Intended (Live)
15. Implications Of A Sinkhole Personality (Live)
16. The Control Freak (Live) 

Note: Contains 01010101, two compilation songs, their split with Bleed, and live tracks from 1995

1. Fire Song
2. Cypress Dust Witch
3. Through To An End
4. Cypress Dust Witch II - Bridge

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