No one who appreciates true space-rock music should be without this release, which sounds as if its sole purpose is to levitate the notes, chords, and textural passages from Carl Hultgren's guitar from within a gravity well slowly losing its powers of exertion until they break free and begin to intersect with other dimensions designed to elevate human consciousness. And if this sounds like a bunch of pretentious nonsense, well, then, maybe it is, but listening to "Portal" in a receptive frame of mind can become a transcendental experience.
I bought this CD in March of '96, knowing almost nothing about the band other than what I'd read in a magazine highlighting emerging psychedelic/space-rock bands. Listening to "Portal" was revelatory. The title of each track was an accurate description of what it aurally accomplished, conceptual without the boldly stated intention of being so. No extreme, heavily modulated droning here; it's more about multiplicative, tonally-driven fretwork filtered through slight delay and reverb, with most cuts building organically and cultivating a contemplative, dream-like, highly atmospheric vibration that helps the listener to become unloosed from familiar moorings and open to new levels of perception (especially if it's being used as a soundtrack for a meditative state). Track 4 ("Fireburst") and 5 ("Sound Ignition")are the only tracks that don't conform to the rest of the structure of "Portal", because they are intended to represent the processes needed to ensure liftoff.
As with every other release by Windy and Carl, "Portal" operates within drumless space, and only "Antarctica" (an entirely instrumental release) contains less of Windy Weber's vocals than does "Portal" (present only on "Ode to Spaceman"). While every release by Windy and Carl is partially driven by Windy's work on bass and keyboards, the keyboards here are especially prevalent within the mix, instead of being more seamlessly integrated. "Preparation", the track that opens "Portal", is especially indicative of this approach; besides revolving around Carl's umcomplicated acoustic riffing, the keyboards flow through the song up and down a scale like pollen being levitated by a slight but insistent breeze.
I recommend picking up "Drawing of Sound", their second full-length release, as an introduction to the full scope of the direction Windy and Carl would begin and continue to pursue, but "Portal" is worth getting not only on its own merits, but also because it offers a glimpse into the genesis of their sound.