Introducing Portishead's Dummy, a 33 1/3 Book

Isolation. Desire. Narcotic. Memory. Shock. Intimacy. Imagination. Solitude. Alienation. Consolation. Truth. Loss. Siren. Lullaby. Nostalgia. Grief. Companion. Lust. Lubricant. Hallucinogen. Essence. Temptress. Perfection. Loneliness. Seduction. Vindication. Depression. Distance. Reconciliation.


Portishead's 1994 album Dummy reassembles itself with every listen and with each listener. It becomes, cumulatively and collectively, a sequence of perfect meditations on loneliness and solitude; it carries promises of the narcotizing power of love; it serenades the anonymous consolations of the night; it rhapsodizes the unmooring influence upon the soul of unrequited and obsessive desire.

Dummy is irresistibly intimate, stylistically eclectic. A mixture of influences drawn from hip-hop, rock, jazz, folk, soul, funk, blues, and elsewhere, the album is a sparsely woven tapestry of sounds striped from their origins -- shards of lyrics, samples, gestures, surfaces, textures. It is held together only by inertia and by the force of the memories, impressions, and perceptions it provokes in the listener -- only to fall away undone and unresolved into darkness.

An entry in Continuum's 33 1/3 series, Portishead's Dummy will be published in 2011.

I'm looking for stories about this music. What were you doing when you first heard it? How did it change your life? How has listening to it changed the way that you thought about what music could do?

We live in a world where music is infinitely distributable, ubiquitous in its presence, contextless in conception and reception. Music lives and dies in a place of continuous reinterpretation by its listeners.

What does Dummy mean to you?