Comfortably Numb

Portishead's sppoky mood music provides a soundtrack for sour times

Along with a new drummer and keyboardist, Portishead's touring ensemble includes Barrow's regular collaborators -- sound engineer Dave McDonald and guitarist Adrian Utley. Though Dummy is the product of prodigious multitracking, Barrow has mixed attitudes toward sampling other artists' sound bites.

"I can understand why people sample. You can have a rhythm section that's got the groove from hell on it, and you could be in your bedroom and you'd never be able to re-create that. But if you've got the facilities to use real instruments, I think you should ... We hardly used any samples on the album."

Portishead's success has heightened demand for Barrow as a remixer (his credits include Paul Weller, Primal Scream and Ride), but he says, "I did one for the Gravediggaz, and it wasn't very good. For me to be remixing the Gravediggaz is a very big deal. And I think the pressure was on so much that I actually messed it up." He laughs, soberly. "Most of the remixes have been done with Adrian, and most have been guitar-oriented. Some I've been happy with, but a lot I've been depressed about." Spoken in true Portishead parlance.

Portishead plays a sold-out show Wed, April 19, at Bimbo's 365 Club in S.F.; call 474-0365.

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