Open Mind Saturated Brain

Open Mind Saturated Brain

ZEGEMA BEACH RECORDS

Sunday, 15 January 2017

PORTRAITS OF PAST

GenresPunk / Hardcore / Post-Hardcore / Emo / Emotive Hardcore / Screamo / Skramz / Experimental
Related artistsFuneral Diner, ...Who Calls So Loud, Torches To Rome, The Audience, Nexus 6, Tamaryn and Vue.
CountrySan Francisco, California USA
Years Active1993-1996 / 2008-2010
Song: "Bang Yer Head"
Album: "0100101110100011100100100"
Year: 1996
For fans ofFuneral Diner, The State Secedes, Maximillian Colby, City Of Caterpillar, Hoover, Indian Summer, Ecorche, Bright Calm Blue, People's Temple Project, Heritage Unit, Drive Like Jehu, Ruhaeda, Shotmaker, Inkwell, Mohinder, Lincoln, Honeywell, Closure, Suffocate For Fuck Sake, Life At These Speeds, Encyclopedia Of American Traitors, Yaphet Kotto, Still Life, Vi Som Älskade Varandra Så Mycket, ...Who Calls So Loud, The Khayembii Communique, Angel Eyes, Nexus 6 and Youth Novel aka PROPER SCREAMO.
Label(s): Self Released / Ebullition Records / Excursions Into The Abyss
This post's artist is from the December 2016 Mix. This is track #1.
You can download: the January 2017 Mix#1 right here or get the new February 2017 Mix#2 here.

"Throw out all your Thursday records, this record is the true emo jams" is the quote I was greeted with on Interpunk by a single buyer review back in the day when they stocked the "0100101110100011100100100" 12"LP by PORTRAITS OF PAST. This long lost review will forever live in my mind, as the subsequent purchase of the LP opened up my ears to the groundwork laid for future screamo bands sharing the same members (Funeral Diner) as well as a plethora of other bands, most notably the recently reunited City Of Caterpillar and the Swedish powerhouse Vi Som Älskade Varandra Så Mycket.

Although the foundation was put down, there is literally no band that sounds like PORTRAITS OF PAST. They had such an unmistakable sound to them. The guitars had a metallic (not heavy metal), clangy and industrial tweak to them which made the band sound like they plugged in their guitars to some kind of bizarre musical factory assembly machine. That might sound like an insult, but it definitely isn't, as I don't think I could ever get PORTRAITS OF PAST mixed up with another band. I also love the shit out of their discography. The instrumentals aren't too far from Indian Summer's dreamy and intoxicating material, but are certainly on the heavier end of the spectrum. The vocals are top notch and screamed like someone recently stabbed in the leg with a jagged and possibly acid-dipped record shard. Aside from the emotionally charged screams there are a few sections with serene and distant clean singing.

Early PORTRAITS OF PAST, aka the 'Demo' tape and 'Bleed split' 7", was abrasive and raw with a fair amount of screechiness to it all, not unlike The Encyclopedia Of American TraitorsInkwellMakara and early Saetia.

The emotionally jarring wall of dark, driving, epic and screamy post-hardcore was perfectly encapsulated on '0100101110100011100100100', one of the most important screamo records of all time. A mindfuck of an opener, "KQED Equals Volvo" is 1:37 of raging, chaotic hardcore complete with frantic and dissonant instrumentals, ravenous vocals and general violence that are reminiscent of the unheralded greats Ruhaeda. "Bang Yer Head" is my go-to PORTRAITS OF PAST song. It opens much more optimistic than any other song on the record, but by 27 seconds the band has lost interest in simple melodies and opt for batshit crazy hardcore that sounds as if City Of Caterpillar were way less patient and much more upset. This chaos ensues although it dips back in to accentuating the scattered fragments of atmospheric post-hardcore, and does so beautifully, for the entirety of the song's 7:13 duration. "The Control Freak" is relatively short for the band at 2:57 and includes some of those aforementioned clean vocals, with the entire ordeal packing quite a punch. "Inspirations of a Sinkhole Mentality" is a builder, complete with cracked, deserted stretches of barren landscapes as well as powerful, focused and stimulating sections of screamy hardcore. "The Outlook is Bleak" begins like most early Funeral Diner songs, with guiding winds that suddenly amalgamate into a massive, swirling tornado. This intro is one minute in length but completely mesmerizing as it bleeds in to the proceeding section as it saunters through the soft/hard dynamic until 3:30 when shit gets real dark and devastating but closes post-four minutes in classic PORTRAITS OF PAST style. "Snicker Snicker" is the longest outing, clocking in at 7:46, followed by my now favourite PORTRAITS OF PAST jam "Something Less Than Intended", which is another lengthy number at 6:08 that closes this masterpiece. The slow but methodical introduction to this is awkward, expansive as well as engaging and soon bows out to usher in the passionate, unrestrained, explosive energy that made PORTRAITS OF PAST one of the most important screamo bands of all time, cuz this shit is just mindblowing, plain and simple.

In 2008 the band announced a reunion which led to shows and a new EP titled 'Cypress Dust Witch'. I was relatively skeptical at first, but "Fire Song" is a very promising start to generally shitty post-decade reunion material conjured by most bands. It is quite noticeable that PORTRAITS OF PAST kept their unique sound but added an uncountable amount of tweaks and micro evolutions. "Cypress Dust Witch" is probably the closest thing to what the 1996 LP sounded like, although the increased production and general songwriting skills are enhanced. "Thought to an End" is the best song on here which boasts some killer riffs and deathbed cries. "Cypress Dust Witch II - Bridge" is another incredible song and follow up to track three, as it rocks like an epic extension of the final ...Who Calls So Loud albums.

Haven't heard PORTRAITS OF PAST? Throw out whatever fuckin' emo jam is in your hands and come back with me to the beginning. Know all about'em? Well I'd strongly suggest listening again because this review sparked a fire in me for the band that I haven't felt since I picked up their quintessential LP back in 2002.

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DISCOGRAPHY
Click )==>here<==( to download the band's complete discography in mp3 form.

1993 - Demo cassetteEP

1994 - Bleed split 7"EP

1996 - 0100101110100011100100100 cd/12"LP

2009 - Cypress Dust Witch cd/12"EP

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(1996) PORTRAITS OF PAST - "Something Less Than Intended" (from '0100101110100011100100100')

(1996) PORTRAITS OF PAST - "Bang Yer Head" (from '0100101110100011100100100')

(1996) PORTRAITS OF PAST - "KQED Equals Volvo" (from '0100101110100011100100100')

(2009) PORTRAITS OF PAST - "Thought to an End" (from 'Cypress Dust Witch')

(2009) PORTRAITS OF PAST - "Cypress Dust With II - Bridge" (from 'Cypress Dust Witch')

(2008) PORTRAITS OF PAST - Reunion show full live set

(1994) PORTRAITS OF PAST - "Journeyman" (from 'Bleed' split)

(1993) PORTRAITS OF PAST - Demo (full album)

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PORTRAITS OF PAST out of print mp3 discography download

(download here)
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