For demo requests and Portal info:

As I'm sure all good Cynic fans know by now, Portal is the band that emerged from the ashes of Cynic in 1994 shortly after Cynic's untimely demise. This page is dedicated to setting the record straight on matters concerning the band Portal and their now legendary demo.


Aruna Abrams - Vocals & Keyboards
Paul Masvidal - Guitar & Vocals
Jason Gobel - Guitar
Chris Kringel - Bass
Sean Reinert - Drums & Percussion


Portal - Demo (1995)

  1. Endless Endeavors
  2. Karma's Plight
  3. Circle
  4. Costumed In Grace
  5. Cosmos
  6. Crawl Above
  7. Mirror Child
  8. Road To You
  9. Belong
  10. Not The Same
Return To Source - by: Robert Venosa

A Brief History:

In the fall of 1994, after the transformation of Cynic, Paul Masvidal, Jason Gobel and Sean Reinert started a new project named Portal. The band name was Sean's idea and was inspired by a Robert Venosa painting which the band loved, entitled "Portal". The new band's music, however, was far from the technical metal that Cynic fan's had come to know. It was more in the style of Dead Can Dance and My Bloody Valentine meets a jazz fusion group, but still a complex and layered sound without the heavy guitars and fast tempos. Portal was a five piece, consisting of the above three ex-members of Cynic and completed by bassist Chris Kringel, who had toured with Cynic pre-post Focus, and lastly, by singer/keyboardist Aruna Abrams who came from Berkeley College of Music to join the band.

Portal demoed a total of ten songs, which were never officially released. There wasn't any form of packaging or artwork for the demo other than the Venosa painting entitled "Return To Source" (used unofficially), as a black and white CD imprint for promo copies. The ten songs were recorded in two five song sessions, first in late 1994 and early 1995 which ultimately became one big demo under the name Portal.

The common misnomer is that these ten songs were actually two separate demos, the second of which being under the name Aeon Spoke. The demo was, in fact, entirely under the name of Portal. Aeon Spoke was a working title for a moment at the time of the Portal demo, but the band just decided to call it "Portal" for the sake of avoiding any confusion. The year of release for the ten song Portal demo (had it been released) would have been 1995.

The lyrics to the first five songs of the Portal demo appeared to be an extension of the Cynic lyric line to a degree, dealing with spiritual awakenings and the celestial nature of being. This is very apparent in the prayer which appears in the song "Cosmos" and goes as follows:

"Divine mother
Free my mind from all obstacles of delusion
And lead me safely to thy shores of fulfillment
Awaken within me increasing strength, positive thinking, courage, faith
And above all fill my heart
With thine unconditional love
With thine unconditional joy"

{This is a prayer by Paramahansa Yogananda, taken from a Sri Daya Mata
lecture, president of the Self Realization Fellowship}

The lyrics for the second five songs are more down to Earth, with more straight forward pop/rock songwriting. All of the songs are, however, very spiritual in nature. All-in-all, the Portal demo represents a major change in musical direction from that of "Focus".

Here's what Paul had to say on the writing credits and guitar panning in the mixdown of the Portal demo: "Most of the arrangements and separate parts were collaborations but the songs originated often with a simple melody and chord progression that was later tweaked by the band. 'Belong', in particular, was my verse and Aruna's chorus. The guitars I think are placed in less obvious panning situations [than on 'Focus'] depending on the part because of the keyboard element also."

The song "Not The Same" had an alternate title of "All That I know" that was also used for it at one point. "Crawl Above The Sun" is also an alternate title that was used for a time instead of simply "Crawl Above" as it appears on the demo. The song "Belong" aired on the Sci-Fi Channel TV series "Good Vs. Evil".

Atlantic and TVT Records (among others) were ready to make offers for the project, but upon Cynic's split, RoadRunner decided to keep Paul and Sean contractually tied to the label, which froze Portal's ability to find a new home. Portal ultimately split in the early part of 1996 for a few reasons...one being the music business and the legal hassles (which they spent a year in) involved with their RoadRunner deal. Also, creatively and personally, there was a lot of change going on for the band members who ultimately decided they needed time to "find themselves" away from each other.

For more information on what the previous members of Portal and Cynic are doing today, check the Musicians section of this website.

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