Portal | Element

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official BLOOD RED TAPE website official PORTAL website official RESONANCE INDUSTRIES website full cdbaby catalogue for PORTAL portal on PAYPLAY portal on TRADEBIT portal on iTUNES portal on EMUSIC

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Rock: Progressive Rock Metal/Punk: 90's Metal Moods: Mood: Intellectual
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by Portal

Portal is a foursome of free-thinking individuals, each actively seeking to challenge themselves and their listeners through intense and provocative performance.
Genre: Rock: Progressive Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Severance
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7:03 $0.99
2. Alone
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8:51 $0.99
3. Remnants
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4:40 $0.99
4. The Paradigm
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4:48 $0.99
5. With You
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7:21 $0.99
6. A Cleansing Breath
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3:24 $0.99
7. Insurgent Few (Live)
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9:56 $0.99
8. Remnants (Kiyomi Mutation)
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6:50 $0.99
9. With You (Diminished Mix)
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6:58 $0.99
10. The Paradigm (Genome's Base Pair Remix)
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6:07 $0.99
11. Remnants (Phil Anderson Remix)
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4:39 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
A visit to Portal's studio is not a typical look behind the scenes at the "rock-start" life style so often exuded by today's young musicians. The posters of Maynard James Keenan and Trent Reznor, lava lamps casting predictable shadows across garage sale shag, and the musty aroma of "contemplative stimulation" are all noticeably absent in this particular cradle of creativity. Instead, the walls are adorned with maps and post-it notes, and servers and computer towers line the floor. With the exception of a few scented candles scattered across the desktops, at first glance one might think the business-like atmosphere a sterile environment for the cultivation of the mind, but the band insists that true inspiration comes from within, not from a contrived simulation of mood and emotion. If you've ever heard Portal's music, it's difficult to argue with them.

Portal is a propulsive amalgam of powerfully packaged grooves, insightful lyrics, and moralistic ideals. Intelligent by design and intellectual by nature, the band actively challenges listeners and members alike to demand more from music, more from society, and more from life itself. Portal deftly combines the progressive rhythmic complexity of Tool, the richly textured orchestration of VAST, the intricate production of Filter, and the raw emotive pull of Nine Inch Nails into a brilliant array of insightfully stimulating music, incorporating a rich tapestry of global instrumentation and a socially conscious lyrical motivation, into a truly unique sonic and psychosomatic experience.

Portal began in 2000 as an exploratory outlet for founder and creative core, Kenton Thomas. Raised on classical piano, Kenton began developing technique and an appreciation for musical composition right from the young age of four, but it was not until his teen years that he started to explore the diverse world of popular music, eventually drawn in by the thriving west-coast grunge movement propagated by the Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden. It was the latter of these that sparked Kenton's initial interest in unorthodox time signatures and complex rhythms, now a signature of Portal's sound, and drove his exploration deeper into progressive and ethereal realms, unearthing the likes of Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and gaining his first in-depth taste of the digital music revolution. Recording gear and time away from university were a natural next step, and a year of recording and developing material eventually yielded Portal's first EP.

From the band's first live performance, a second place finish at the University of Alberta's Battle of the Bands in 2001, to their win at the Adopt-A-Band Independent Artist Challenge later that year, to being selected as a finalist in the 2002 National Songwriting Competition, Portal has continued to evolve, grow and mature. Despite various successes and setbacks, Kenton feels each and every step has been building towards this moment. Even Portal's line-up was not solidified until last year when guitarist Rosco Brooks and drummer Bill George were added to the fold, but its current incarnation is the most capable yet. "The last four years have been an unforgettable voyage, but it's really been more of an education than anything else," says bassist and original member Kevin Hoskin. "For Portal, the real journey starts here."

Element is, without a doubt, Portal's most mature anthology to date, and one that Kenton and the band consider to be the first true representation of their visions and tastes. The album is a collection of songs from Portal's last release that the band painstakingly picked apart, rebuilt from the ground up, and moulded into a product they can finally call their own. "The purpose of Element was experimentation, through and through," says Kenton. "From vocal approach to percussive instrumentation, mixing techniques and graphic design - nothing was sacred. We used six different snare drums during the recording process. I wanted us to fully explore our individual and collective tastes, as well as our capabilities and limitations, and come out the other side with a much better idea of where we've been, where we're going, and who we are. If nothing else, we achieved that goal beautifully, and we will be more successful in the years to come because of it."

In an age when decisions are all-too-often governed by beaurocratic executives, disconnected pop producers, and the proverbial "bottom line", the artistic integrity that Portal has displayed through their work on Element is an inspiring demonstration of a focussed dedication to one's craft, and a meticulous attention to detail. Five years of growth and maturation, three years of creative development, and ten months of hard work have finally come to fruition. This is Portal, in the state of mind and environment they find most comfortable.

This is Portal, in their element.


to write a review

Chris O'Hare

Tool, NIN, but with better lyrics
A defiant yell at the universe, proclaiming, "I AM!". Powerful beats and melodies throughout, with strong lyrics, which touch on the infinities of the universe, inner strength, independence, and of course, relationships. Crisp sound, passionate, eloquent. Suggestive of Tool in style, and Nine Inch Nails in grit, but stands strongly on its own. Several songs have multiple "transitions" or "stages" (don't know the right term), which makes it seem like more than the six main songs. I don't care for remixes in general, but the quality of the first six songs [36 min] (and the "bonus" live track [9 min]) is worth the cost of the cd. (An aside: Kenton has gone into a lot of detail about the makings-of on their website. Check it out if that stuff interests you.) This cd is a great improvement over "The Vast Expanse Diminishing". Definitely get this album, and then "A Taste of Things to Come...".


Man this is sweet! The quality is almost too good. All the best tracks are on this one as well as a few nifty remixes to quench anyone's P()RT/\L induced thirst. Awesome job!


Re-imagined "Vast Expanse Diminishing"
If you like hard, rythmic, intelligent music with a progressive bent, you will love this album. This album is made up of several of the songs off thier previous album called The Vast Expanse Diminishing that have been completely reworked and re-imagined with much more layering of sound and a much better, cleaner presentation. It also includes several remixes of a few of the songs that are absolutely great. Buy this album! It is worth it!


Another Winner
The re-produced tracks from "Vast Expanse" are indeed a leap forward from their original incarnations, the changes in drum parts, guitar tones, and mixing levels improving the songs more than you might think. The remixes are fantastic, especially "With You" in my humble opinion. The anthro remix of "Nothing" was one of my favorite tracks from "Taste" so I was very pleased to find so many similar re-imaginings on "Element." All these guys need to do is play a show in Virginia and my life will be complete, haha.

Rob Langejans

Spectacular Prog/Rock
After about a year I still have this album in constant circulation. It is one of my favorites. I can't wait to see what they do next.

joe from glen mills pa

the world should experience portal
i'm priveledged to have known their work for some years now, first hearing of them from garageband.com ; i agree with the description that this cd, element, is a culmination and masterpiece representing where they are now musically....i agree with the virginia reviewer...if they could play a venue local to me, not only would i be charged, but i can't help but think that the average smart philly crowd would give them the send up that they deserve...well done, lads; i wish and hope much success your way....


Great But...
I really enjoyed this CD, but I would have prefer more songs and newer material as "The Vast Expanse Diminishing" was really awesome, this one is just the sames songs reedited. They should have just reedit the entire album and sell it as a reedition. Don't get me wrong this album Rocks and the songs a way more mastered than the other CD so I really enjoyed it :). I can't wait to hear newer material form them :)


Great Rock/Prog
Absolutely great sound. Recommended to Tool fan.

Anthony Wesley

Progressive/post rock at it's finest.
This album has blown me away each time I've listened to it. And I've listened to it cover-to-cover about 40x since I've gotten it. From the expressive lyrics to the excellent instrumentation, this album is bounds ahead of many other artists today.


Right Up There With Tool, Dredg, and NIN
Definitely all awesome tracks here with truly outstanding production. Very clean, crisp sound. The track order is great as the album gets stronger with each song.

My favorite tracks are "The Paradigm" and "With You" by far. I especially loved the intro to "With You" that acts as the perfect bridge from "The Paradigm." It's a perfect example of what Tool does so well: soft interludes in between the heavy riffs which makes the hard rock so much more powerful. That soft/loud skill is well mastered here.

The vocals are awesome because they sound unlike any other band I've listened to. They are meticulously enunciated so I can actually understand the lyrics and get some cool imagery going. I'd have to parallel the vocals to poetry reading as the words ride smack next to the instrumental rhythm.

Overall, I'm very glad I bought this album. With that said, I have some suggestions on how I would like Portal even more. Although the vocals are awesome and original, they seem restricted to the intellectual realm. Because the vocals are kept so close to the rhythm, with a 1-to-1 relationship between syllables and beats, they don't achieve that emotional crescendo that Maynard does so well with Tool. Listening to these songs gets me pumped but that emotion builds and doesn't get to erupt like it does on Tool's song "Undertow." Part of it is a desire to hear a slightly higher octave of vocals, and part of it is a desire to simply hear the lyrics bust out of the syllabic scheme because the emotion can't be contained any longer.

As for the guitars, drums, and keyboards: very awesome stuff. The only weaker area I detected was occasional predictability. By that I mean when the listener can out think the pace of the song and already knows exactly what notes/beats are coming. For example Tool and Dream Theater are great at putting a little variance throughout their songs, whether its a few extra drum beats, a quick guitar twang, or a vocal note taken low instead of high, etc. "With You" does better with this towards the end. I don't mean to say the mix isn't complex enough because there's some really great mixing here (especially on "A Cleansing Breath"). Rather, I'd just like a few more surprises rather than purely identical repetitions of the chorus/melody.

Lastly, I'll just gripe about the bang-for-the-buck. I'm not a big fan of live tracks nor of remixes. But I was very pleased to have Insurgent Few on this disc and I really enjoyed the electronica sounds in the remixes (particularly the Kiyami Mutation of "Remnants"). My qualm, though, is for a full album price of $12, I'm not satisfied with hearing remixes of the same songs. I'd want to hear at least 10 original songs to pay a full album price (and yes, full albums never cost more than $12-14 if you shop online; I've never paid that ridiculous tag price of $19 that many music stores charge). Maybe one or two remixes would be cool, but if there's more than that there should be a seperate album in my opinion. Now I don't pretend to be a music expert, so I don't mean to put down all the hard work that went into this album. They're all just ideas on possible areas to sound even more incredible. I just love this music so much I'd love to see a major label mainstream release on store shelves as soon as possible.
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