April 4, 2012

Cynic - The Portal Tapes (2012)

In the fall of 1994, after the transformation of Cynic, Paul Masvidal, Jason Gobel and Sean Reinert started a new project named Portal. The band name was Sean's idea and was inspired by a Robert Venosa painting which the band loved, entitled "Portal". The new band's music, however, was far from the technical metal that Cynic fan's had come to know. It was more in the style of Dead Can Dance and My Bloody Valentine meets a jazz fusion group, but still a complex and layered sound without the heavy guitars and fast tempos. Portal was a five piece, consisting of the above three ex-members of Cynic and completed by bassist Chris Kringel, who had toured with Cynic pre-post Focus, and lastly, by singer/keyboardist Aruna Abrams who came from Berkeley College of Music to join the band.Portal demoed a total of ten songs, which were never officially released. There wasn't any form of packaging or artwork for the demo other than the Venosa painting entitled "Return To Source" (used unofficially), as a black and white CD imprint for promo copies. The ten songs were recorded in two five song sessions, first in late 1994 and early 1995 which ultimately became one big demo under the name Portal.
- via The Cynical Sphere 

So, after almost 20 years, Cynic have decided to give their Portal demo a proper official release, gathering all ten songs on a single compilation called The Portal Tapes. Pretty cool, huh?

Check out Sean Reinert's sweet vest. 

Oddly enough, The Portal Tapes sounds like a logical evolution of Carbon-Based Anatomy, even though the former was created in 1994-1995. There is virtually no "metal" in Portal's sound - it's more of a progressive rock-jazz fusion affair, seamlessly blending together futuristic synths, jazzy keyboards, liquid bass lines, laid-back guitars, singer Aruna Abrams' ethereal vocals and Sean Reinert's complex, yet delicate drumming into an otherworldly sonic experience that's fascinating and enthralling. Some of the songs have almost of a pop-rock vibe to them, which probably sounds like blasphemy to hardcore Cynic fans, but to me, it's just another angle of this amazing band that has never ceased to evolve, constantly exploring and trying new things with their music.

Thanks to the magic of Bandcamp, you can stream the entire album right here and get a taste for yourself. I'm a Cynic fanboy and I cannot be trusted. I also found this professionally-shot video of Cynic performing one of these Portal songs, so I'll probably spend the rest of evening watching it over and over again.

Peace out, bros.

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