Part of the Chicago-based Tortoise's appeal and loyal following is fabricated upon its many-sided musicality, where bits and pieces of retro psychedelia, Euro space-rock, pop overtones and Pink Floyd type walls-of-sound come to fruition. Through it all, and somehow or another, the band propagates a singular identity via probing fuzz-toned guitars, deep bass grooves, streaming synth effects and cohesive thematic overtures.
With only its sixth full-length album, given the unit's twenty-year existence the tantalizing fabrics of sound, featuring a consortium of hip, modern day stylizations, are dashed with elements from the past. As the musicians generate their momentum via resonating guitar and keys motifs amid some ethereal, space-rock vamps, largely colored with quaintly melodic choruses. Hence, a near picture perfect fusion of applications that intersect and spawn a rather tenacious string of developments.
On "Yinxianghechengqi," guitarist Jeff Parker executes distortion-heavy, progressive-rock lines atop the rhythm section's punishing pulse. But a cosmic meltdown provides a mesmeric contrast, where the artists continue their plight with a smattering of simply enacted dream sequences. The band also pursues simplistic '60s pop riffing with antiquated electronics-based effects, then kick up a storm in spots due to spiraling aerial assaults. Bringing quite a bit to the table, Tortoise is masterful at conjuring up lucid imagery, sans any noticeable sense of musical complacency, while providing a perceptible visual element to the mind's always discerning eye.
Personnel: Doug McCombs: bass; Jeff Parker: guitar; John Herndon: drums, keyboards; John McEntire: drums, keyboards; Dan Bitney: drums, percussion, keyboards.