Now on to their sixth full album, Portal's music has explored a wide range of sub-genres within the realms of electronic music. Of their last two long players, 2003's 'Promise' was Portal at their most accessible whereas the following year's 'Music For Broadcast' showcased Scott Sinfield's clear admiration for Eno-inspired background music. 'Waves & Echoes' represents another new direction of sorts with the emphasis being on darker songwriting and a more experimental approach. Such experiments don't always work; 'Consumed' starts off beautifully, in the manner of regular influence the Cocteau Twins but it is then submerged by some caustic metallic sounds. Also, a few of the instrumental tracks are easy enough to listen to but it's hard to remember them when the CD stops playing, but at least the stately chimes of 'Resolution' and the cool breeze of 'Quartet' prove to be notable exceptions. In the second half of the album, Sinfield finds more rewards in the more conventional songs such as the tense and foreboding 'Sometimes'. 'Bloodline' sees the childlike vocal of Rachel Hughes caught in Sinfield's cathedrals of dense noise and by the time the euphoric finale of 'Light At The Centre' has come and gone, it's clear that this is a record of two very different halves. The title track is probably the defining moment; an unsually deep lyric from Sinfield, the haunting vocals of Hughes, chilly atmospheric effects and yet - underneath it all - the usual warmth of Portal remains a constant. After repeated listens, 'Waves & Echoes' still sounds rather uneven but Sinfield's sense of melody - whether it's delivered in distorted or simplistic fashion - ultimately wins through.