I’ve been playing a long player that was released in 2008 and which, had I discovered it earlier, may have wormed its way into contention for this website’s album of the year bouquets. Third by Portishead is a stunning recording and a remarkable achievement for a beat combo that had slipped off the radar for a number of years. Mark my words, this is a challenging listen but, like anything of lasting and tangible quality, this sublime collection of songs requires a few plays for the astounding creativity and brilliance to shine through. My favourite tracks are an obdurate amalgam of Krautrock repetition, industrial robustness and an electronic precision that reminds this listener of Blue Monday era New Order. Machine Gun, in particular, is a swaggeringly insouciant slice of drum machine assault and battery, an awesomely exact mugging-by-riddim that demands to be played extremely loudly. The soundscapes on Third are bleak, claustrophobic, defiantly urban and more than a touch frightening; this LP could be considered an uneasy and unfazed nephew of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures and is certainly worthy of mention in the same breath as the Mancunians’ desolate classic. That is not to suggest that Third is not beautiful. Beth Gibbons’s striking vocals are gorgeous and add humanity to the uncompromising maelstrom that is whipped up around them. This is a compelling piece of art and I salute it energetically. File under 'Austere Sturm und Drang'.Please ask me for an invitation to join spotify. The Guardian proffered praise for it yesterday.