PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Portable Sunsets: Rental

Breezy, experimental sunset techno vibes from the L.A.-based Portable Sunsets.

Portable Sunsets


Label: Atomnation
US Release Date: 2014-05-12
UK Release Date: 2014-05-12

Portable Sunset’s new EP Rental for Amsterdam-cum-Belin based label Atomnation is five tracks of electronic referencing techno that moves between Analord-esq jams, vibe-y organic experimentations, and lush, introspective, minimal house.

Portable Sunsets music come across as both accessible and challenging at the same time, with both poles of his personality clearly on show over the course of the five tracks on offer. The influence of seminal British institutions such as Rephlex, Warp and Planet Mu (in its IDM days) is evident, but without wearing it too loudly so as to become pastiche, which so many producers fall foul of, with legions of them churning out mediocre replications of important avant-garde artists.

Opening number “Islander (Version)” launches straight into action with a tight, bouncy, electro-meets-techno drum machine groove combining with a chunky, analogue sounding synth sequence and mournful harmony. The tune breaks down, for lack of a better description, slowing rebuilding itself back up and smoothly dropping into a wonderfully delicious melodic release of the opening synth sequence.

“Feelings” is all gamelan and bell vibes that noodle along for a bit in a fairly random, dissonant in its execution, melodic in its design, kind of way, whilst “Home Late” reflects its title well, with a big ambient synth trill basically beckoning the stilted heat of the morning LA sun in through your window at 6am after a big night of ravey fun times. The track reveals itself to be a fairly funky electro house number with a twinkly, yet moribund arpeggio brilliantly capturing that disorientating feeling you get whilst trying to get to sleep after said night out; otherworldly blue lights flickering in your peripherals, shadows of things that may or may not be there darting in front of your perception, disappearing into nothing as you swivel your head to see what’s up.

“Light Switch” is seemingly bathed in a bath of home-recorded ambiance which gives the track a lovely warm feeling. The minimal, beatless arrangement really lets its individual elements sing and dissolve into nothing, with a strange repeating drone, snippets of hummed singing and Rhodes-y organ notes complimenting the skeletal arrangement and tune.

“Loft Mentality” is a breezy number that wants you to drift away on its ambient bed of repeating arps, chanted intonations and organic bass tones. The tune is a great illustration of Portable Sunsets production style. Nothing seems loopy or lazy despite the club centric, dance-y nature of the genres he works within. The drums knock rather than bump, giving the tune a strange warehouse vibe its accompanying instrumentation doesn’t back up creating a lovely juxtaposition of styles and feeling – especially when the '80s synth brass melody gets to play.

Basically Portable Sunsets makes ambient beat music with club-ready drums. He has seemingly soaked up the sunset hip-hop vibes of his adopted home and combined that aesthetic with a European techno vibe in fine style. The results are good, but I feel that “Feelings” is a bit out of place and probably more of an album track than an EP one. All things said this is a lovely addition to the Atomnation roster and I expect to hear more good things from Portable Sunsets in the future.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.