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The guitarist behind Portishead’s ice-cool grooves, Adrian Utley is a restless sonic adventurer who’s made use of everything from Echoplexes to paintbrushes to explore the full sonic potential of the guitar.
He invited us down to his studio to talk about the creative techniques behind classic Portishead tracks, jamming with Jeff Beck, plus the vintage guitars and amps he relies on to produce a kaleidoscope of tones
The things that inspire guitarists to make a new kind of music are often surprising. For Adrian Utley, a jazz- trained player with a penchant for minimalist guitar, it was the brash and buoyant grooves of hip-hop that provided the inspiration for his straight- no-chaser guitar work with Portishead.
“I’d been interested in Public Enemy and the fact that you could take a drum loop or a break that was often Blue Note or James Brown, or whatever, and you could add other things like sub-bass or a ride over the top of it. Or it could be slowed down or you could chop it up into 16 bits,” Adrian explains.