Travis has been creating original and cover music for over 6 years, and previously had two self-produced acoustic albums to his name as well, but his latest EP was his first foray into professional producing. The sound achieved with his techniques, given that he recorded over 90% of the album from his bedroom, is nothing short of astounding. The intricate rhythm work involved in the bass guitar and drums, in particular, are very impressive.
Travis plans to follow up the “Portrait” EP with an LP that he says will be more, “based in synth and electronic undertones, rather than mostly on guitar.” While he states he’s definitely not abandoning the guitar, he wants to keep focused on up-beat, dance-infused tunes and put out his new full-length album in late 2014.
I’ve been listening to this Ep on repeat over and over again for a few days. “Portrait,” bumps its funky, fun way along from beginning to end. The guitar lines grind and growl, especially in “Arrow” and “Carry On (We’ll be Here When You Get Back)” There’s also a hint of early-80s electro on some of the tunes, which adds a hypnotic flavor. “Come A Little Closer” features a mean back-beat, instead of the usual dance-4/4 beat, and the production on the song is also fantastic.
The drums and basslines, are cracking on every song, and Travis’ vocals flow through the arrangements with amazing ease. Coming in at just under a trim 20 minutes, Polite Fiction has unleashed a lean 5 song Ep where each track is perfect and immaculately produced. From the straight up drum sequences of the opening song, to the heavy and funky string riffs out of “Quiet, Quiet” this comes across as a studied album, striking a balance between old school funky disco rhythms, alternative-rock guitar hooks, and modern-day dance electronica.
“Portrait” has a touch of class, it’s so refreshing, and has that modern feel with the subtle tang of those delicious 80’s guitar licks, the cool, crystal-clear, full-ranging vocals with smooth basslines and drum beats to match. I would say that this Ep is ‘different’ which is exactly what music today needs, the whole Ep is basically a positive message, demonstrating how effectively today, music is made on laptops in bedrooms, and not in over-expensive professional studios.
Whilst there is the risk that music produced this way may appear to lack the heart and soul of real live collaboration in a studio ambient. Polite Fiction has put enough soul into “Portrait” to thoroughly compensate. Every track feels so heartfelt; you can almost hear the effort that went into producing them.
All in all this is an astounding album which can be enjoyed by all music fans alike. The Ep has a strong emotive quality; it has such charm, and a quirky fun, music loving vibe that you will not be able to sit still when playing this. Moreover it’s uplifting, it’s moving, it’s joyful and somehow life affirming, this album will really chill you out, I couldn’t recommend it more.
Regardless of your musical tastes, give “Portrait” a try. Just be prepared to be hypnotized by Polite Fiction and Travis’ performances and arrangements on this Ep.
***Everything you hear on “Portrait” was written, performed, and recorded right here in Travis’ bedroom by himself, with a few small exceptions here and there, while Mixing was done by Blake Eiseman of BinkSound – binksound.com and Mastering by Colin Leonard of SING Mastering – singmastering.com
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