If you listen, you can hear the sound of drums coming from somewhere high up on Whiskey Hill. And if you listen more closely you might hear the haunting whisper of the ngoni's seven strings, and the faint wail of a distorted guitar. Perhaps even a violin or the tapping of a balafon. And if you try, you might discover magical songs, in all of their simple complexity, with carefully crafted lyrics, and soulful harmony. And then you might notice a rock and roll snarl, and a funky groove that is bending you at the knees and moving your foot up and down. You have just heard the first sounds of Porter, and have only just begun. Founded by songwriter Peter Fand in the year 2000, Porter is the next step in the fusion of musical worlds, under the grand heading of rock and roll. Stylistically it is often compared to Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell in the way that Fand crafts a poetic lyrical tale, and in the unique and compelling way that Porter introduces sounds that are rarely heard in American popular music. It is classic American songwriting, infused with the flavor of West Africa, the easeful intensity of jazz and finished off with a bit of America's distinctly southern country twang. Among the most compelling elements of this music is the deeply rhythmic approach that Porter brings to their arrangements. The dynamic sound of two percussionists working together with a drum set player have rarely been heard in this genre, and really bring the groove to a new level. All the while, jazz-like chord changes and vocal harmonies provide an intricate sonic texture. At moments, a song may be supported by the rich sound of strumming acoustic guitars, like in the first song Alone, or the swing of an upright bass and the jazz flourishes of guitar virtuosity, as in the haunting Change in the Weather. David Byrne would be proud!
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