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Tortoise: Beacons Of Ancestorship

Glenn Astarita By

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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.


Track Listing: High Class Slim Came Floatin' In; Prepare Your Coffin; Northern Something; Gigantes; Penumbra; Yinxianghechengqi; The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One; Minors; Monument Six One Thousand; de Chelly; Charteroak Foundation.

Personnel: All instruments played by Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Douglas McCombs, John McEntire, Jeff Parker.

Title: Beacons Of Ancestorship | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Thrill Jockey

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