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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: Doug McCombs: bass; Jeff Parker: guitar; John Herndon: drums, keyboards; John McEntire: drums, keyboards; Dan Bitney: drums, percussion, keyboards.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.