Port of Est - Onyx Moon
Electropop Port of Est are a new electro-pop duo from the United States’ lesser-known Portland in Maine. Having only worked together a short time, vocalist Hannah Tarkinson and producer Todd Kitchens just released their first album April 30. Onyx Moon is a study in contrasts and is already being compared to the likes of Phantogram and 90s indie pop group Frente.

Onyx Moon already has two singles the first of which, “Valentine in My Headphones”, was released well in advance of the album and gave listeners a good idea of what to expect from Port of Est. The track opens with an interesting and distinctive synth from Kitchens which almost sounds like an analog bass, but with a more bubbly effect to it. This synth track starts out flat and on a low minor key, but once Tarkinson’s vocals enter the picture, this track changes quite drastically from what could have been an experimental electro track to something more in the range of pop. The synths change with her voice, lightening up but delving back into their original flat range off and on. While interesting and innovative production-wise, the track can be a bit underwhelming due to a lack of change in pitch and loudness, but it’s a solid start.



“Clash” is the second song off Onyx Moon, and its passion, experimental tempo and, well, abject weirdness more than makes up for any flatness in “Valentine”. A highly syncopated pseudo-drum and bass beat runs through the track while seemingly random electronic samples punctuate the sonic spaces along with Tarkinson’s suddenly much more passionate and flexible vocals. Easily the most interesting and original track on the album, experimental indie fans will hope for more songs like “Clash” than they get in Onyx Moon.


That said, there are a few other interesting and different tracks on Port of Est’s debut. Album opener “Lupine”, for example, once again shows the creativity and Bjork-esque range Tarkinson can achieve if she chooses. “Transparent” is also on the short list of truly different tracks on Onyx Moon as Kitchens opens up his own range when it comes to various synths and beats. Here some influence from Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be heard but in a more syncopated and anti-pop vein.

The more pop-laced songs on Onyx Moon are perfectly acceptable, even interesting in their own right. “Collide”, for example, draws on Lana del Rey and possibly Kate Bush to put together a charming indie pop song which is by no means conventional. Similarly, “Skin to Skin” uses Kitchens’ now characteristic syncopated drums and heavy echo effects to create a nostalgic 90s feel with modern techniques.

With Onyx Moon, Port of Est seem to be walking a line between truly experimental, shoegaze-style electro-pop and more conventional indie pop. As both ends of their spectrum are of a fairly high quality, it’s up to the duo to figure out and decide which style they enjoy more, but the songs which are more original like “Clash” and album closer “Kamikaze” seem to have more passion and interest from the duo themselves, so here’s hoping that’s the way they choose to go in future. In the meantime, Onyx Moon is a solid debut and this small-town duo have great potential to put themselves and the “other” Portland on the map.

4
Brutal Resonance

Port of Est - Onyx Moon

7.0
"Good"
N/A
Electroracle
Released off label 2016
Port of Est are a new electro-pop duo from the United States’ lesser-known Portland in Maine. Having only worked together a short time, vocalist Hannah Tarkinson and producer Todd Kitchens just released their first album April 30. Onyx Moon is a study in contrasts and is already being compared to the likes of Phantogram and 90s indie pop group Frente.

Onyx Moon already has two singles the first of which, “Valentine in My Headphones”, was released well in advance of the album and gave listeners a good idea of what to expect from Port of Est. The track opens with an interesting and distinctive synth from Kitchens which almost sounds like an analog bass, but with a more bubbly effect to it. This synth track starts out flat and on a low minor key, but once Tarkinson’s vocals enter the picture, this track changes quite drastically from what could have been an experimental electro track to something more in the range of pop. The synths change with her voice, lightening up but delving back into their original flat range off and on. While interesting and innovative production-wise, the track can be a bit underwhelming due to a lack of change in pitch and loudness, but it’s a solid start.



“Clash” is the second song off Onyx Moon, and its passion, experimental tempo and, well, abject weirdness more than makes up for any flatness in “Valentine”. A highly syncopated pseudo-drum and bass beat runs through the track while seemingly random electronic samples punctuate the sonic spaces along with Tarkinson’s suddenly much more passionate and flexible vocals. Easily the most interesting and original track on the album, experimental indie fans will hope for more songs like “Clash” than they get in Onyx Moon.


That said, there are a few other interesting and different tracks on Port of Est’s debut. Album opener “Lupine”, for example, once again shows the creativity and Bjork-esque range Tarkinson can achieve if she chooses. “Transparent” is also on the short list of truly different tracks on Onyx Moon as Kitchens opens up his own range when it comes to various synths and beats. Here some influence from Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be heard but in a more syncopated and anti-pop vein.

The more pop-laced songs on Onyx Moon are perfectly acceptable, even interesting in their own right. “Collide”, for example, draws on Lana del Rey and possibly Kate Bush to put together a charming indie pop song which is by no means conventional. Similarly, “Skin to Skin” uses Kitchens’ now characteristic syncopated drums and heavy echo effects to create a nostalgic 90s feel with modern techniques.

With Onyx Moon, Port of Est seem to be walking a line between truly experimental, shoegaze-style electro-pop and more conventional indie pop. As both ends of their spectrum are of a fairly high quality, it’s up to the duo to figure out and decide which style they enjoy more, but the songs which are more original like “Clash” and album closer “Kamikaze” seem to have more passion and interest from the duo themselves, so here’s hoping that’s the way they choose to go in future. In the meantime, Onyx Moon is a solid debut and this small-town duo have great potential to put themselves and the “other” Portland on the map.

Jun 21 2016

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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