May 132011

NPR (formerly known as National Public Radio) is a non-profit media organization that syndicates radio programming to almost 800 radio stations around the U.S. It gets about 10% of its funding from the U.S. government through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which makes it a perennial whipping boy for conservative politicians who want to cut or eliminate its government funding — or simply compel NPR to become as bland as possible.

NPR has a web presence, too, and today they just did something that undoubtedly will stir its opponents into a fine froth: They posted a video of the Australian band Portal playing a song at last year’s Maryland Deathfest. The clip comes from a limited edition version of the Maryland Deathfest:The Movie II DVD, which is now available for pre-order from Handshake Inc. with a larger release planned for August.

Portal is a band about which I have mixed feelings. Like the NPR writer who posted about the video, I found the Portal’s 2009 album Swarth to be a horrifying, but perversely riveting listening experience. I like extreme music quite a bit, as you can possibly tell, but Swarth isn’t an album I’ve listened to repeatedly. I’m glad it exists, I dig it, but it’s punishing to hear.

Now, as for that video clip, it’s fucking awesome — the music is still horrifying, but watching these hooded and masked ghouls inflicting it live was cool.  Or, at least I thought so. I have a feeling NPR’s political opponents won’t be so fucking appreciative.  (more after the jump, including that video . . .)

NPR’s writer did a nice job summing up the performance:

The intense theatricality of The Curator (he’s the guy in the pope hat), the in-and-out focus that threatens to get too close to the horror, the blue and red lights that feel like we’re witnessing a very wrong crime scene — visually, it’s the makings of an H.P. Lovecraft short story realized by David Lynch.

With that preface, go watch the clip of Portal performing “Illoomorpheme” from Swarth, courtesy of the ballsy people at NPR (at this location).  I haven’t yet figured out how to embed the video here.

At that same page, you can read an interesting interview with director David Hall, who not only filmed the video of last year’s Maryland Deathfest but is gearing up to do it again this year.

  12 Responses to “PORTAL ON NPR (?!?!)”

  1. That was fuckin’ awesome! I love Swarth. I find that the more I hear that album the less punishing it is. Do you remember those 3D pictures that were everywhere in the early ’90s? If you strained your eyes to see the image, it would never reveal itself, but if you relaxed your eyes you’d see it quickly. Portal’s music is that way to me. If you let it relax you it’s beautiful.

    • I like that analogy. I was actually tempted to listen to Swarth again after seeing the video. I think it now goes on the listening list for this weekend (the one I keep in my head). I just have to find a time when I’m not doing anything else but listening. 🙂

  2. I was there for of my buddies is really huge on Portal. Personally I lost interest in them about three songs in (though I was pretty wrecked by the time they came on, so that could have had something to do with it)…they do have a very cool stage look though.

    Check out Impetuous Ritual for a more accessible take on Portals music

    • Man, thanks for that reminder. I’ve been meaning to check out that band ever since I heard they share a couple members with Portal. I just listened to “Convoluting unto Despondent Anachronism ” on YouTube. Now I have to get the whole album, dammit.

  3. Just use this:

    • Islander, there’s supposed to be an embedding code there, but it doesn’t show up. Perhaps it does when you go into the dashboard.

      • I’m not seeing it there either. I did see the embed code on the video at the NPR site, but when I copied and inserted it into the post, I got something different from the video. I tried it repeatedly and it never worked.

  4. Hey, thanks for the link to NPR. I’m the guy that wrote the article. I noticed that the embed code on that is weird, too. I’m gonna ask our tech folks about when I get back into work on Monday.

    Loved the free download comp you put up recently, by the way.

    • Thanks for the comment (and glad you liked that comp). I really, really enjoyed reading your piece, so it’s just as well we’re having to send people to NPR to see that rather than being able to embed the video here.

  5. I’ve tried to listen to Portal but I just don’t get it, all I hear is fuzz

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