Go! Discs 1994
Portishead used some of the same building blocks as fellow Bristol, England, trip-hoppers Massive Attack – woozy break beats, jazzy samples, live guitar, girl singer/guy programmer dynamic – but Beth Gibbon's brooding, pop-cabaret vocals showed to the world that you could feel real pain over a slow-dissolve groove. Dummy had a lot in common with the creepy beatscapes of the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA but its depth-charge emotional power also evoked Forties noir and late-night, last-cigarette balladry. When Gibbons' sings "nobody loves me...it's true/Not like you do," against the fragile, cold-storage Lalo Schifrin sample of "Sour Times," she's a Billie Holiday for the chillout room.