Album of the Week: Portable – Alan Abrahams

What does it sound like: Alien electronics interjecting soulful vocals.
Why is it our album of the week: Its inescapable charm.
Dance floor or Sofa: Although suitable in both contexts, Alan Abrahams is definitely a more personal experience.

The designation, Alan Abrahams suggests this latest album is a very personal effort for the man behind the Portable moniker. Using his own name as the album title adds to the sense of charm and humility that we encounter here on Abraham’s 7th album, and something that has always weaved it’s way through the South African artist’s music. Being a regular feature on labels like Perlon and Live at Robert Johnson, he now adds the luminary, !K7 to that list with an album that takes a slight diversion from the dance floor, although not totally losing touch with it. Although  “More Than” would be more than happy in that context, it is the closest the album ever gets to the measured beat and repetition of a dance track, with Alan Abrahams adopting the role of songwriter for the most part.

Abrahams said that the album was partly inspired by his decision to give up drinking and taking drugs, and in the lyricism we find themes of love-loss and loneliness, expressed through resolving chord progressions that meander in reserved tempos and billowing textures that include acoustic pianos, strings and guitars. “Your Warrior”, “Say it’s going to change” and “Closer” are all cut from this cloth and instil this feeling of departed love and separation immediately through the opening three tracks, but digging only a little deeper you’ll also find Abrahams’ continued resolution in pushing at the edges of electronic music, and truly expressing its exploratory nature. It’s probably its most notable on “Séraphin” but it’s most effective when Abrahams finds a perfectly orchestrated balance between these exploratory moments and the universally personable nature of a vocal song, with “Say it’s gonna change soon” probably the most perfect example in the regard. Alan Abrahams a fully rounded listening experience, and instantly recognisable as a Portable album, for his distinctive 80’s-synth-pop vocals and those alien sonic palettes he works in. It’s something we can put on at any time of the day, and works best as the sinuous bridge between the sofa and the dance floor.