CD Review | “Portalis” is a random anthem generator

When this album gets catchy, there’s really no resisting it.  Portalis will reel you in, hook line and sinker.  But the moment of capture is a temporary state of being.  It’s not long before Zack Teran and his quartet let go and start the process all over again.

What really gets me about this album is how its thoughts seem very scattered and that it could follow any direction at any time, and yet right when it appears another random change is in the works, an anthemic passage bursts from behind the clouds like a bold ray of sunlight, making everything it touches warm and happy and alive.  It rarely manifests the same way twice.  That randomness is half the reason for all the fun.

It’s in how “Along the Mountains in the Sky” skitters about dispensing little fragments of melody and then suddenly swells up for bold, thick statements of purpose.  And there’s how sometimes Teran just leads right out with it.  “Chasm” shows its true face right from the beginning and nothing about the rest of the tune changes that first impression, even as it goes about deviating from it in any number of ways.  No different on “Meditation Space,” but where the previous track had a punchy, foot-tapping attitude, this time around the melody is treated as if it were used to paint a sky full of clouds lit up in sunset colors.  Rhythmically, each of the album’s tracks fall into one of two categories: punchy attitude or a contented sigh.  The result is that they feed off each other’s energy, where the contrast between the two tones makes each resonate that much stronger by way of comparison.  And when viewed in the context of melodies in a transitory state, the constancy of the tempo causes the changes to stand out with distinction.

Your album personnel:  Zack Teran (electric & acoustic bass, electronics, vocals), Chris Gillette (tenor saxophone), Brandon Sherman (trumpet) and Miguel Jimenez-Cruz(drums).