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These days the rantings of prophets and first class doom sayers are all but coming true. I’m not getting on a soapbox here, but the future of civilization (actually our civilization) is tending to mimic or at least adopt the predictions of the movie Koyaanisqatsi. Our living environment has become packaged, sealed, and artificially scented.
Why am I telling you this? Because Tortoise dwells in this netherworld, making music for our claustrophobic future.
Well, not exactly. Tortoise creates, on its fifth full-length recording, a post-rock, post-jazz, post-ambient, post-(insert style) studio album as sort of a time capsule of sequencers, synths, and fuzzy guitar wanderings, all of which are surrounded by dense bass. Everything rumbles here, and at times you feel you are wearing a rather wet and heavy wool sweater.
This direction is a progression from the group's last disc, the 2001 "mislabeled" Standards , and the members work in their other various projects: Isotope 217, Brokeback, Chicago Underground, and The Sea And Cake. For the members of Tortoise, the future is so bright they have to work in various shades, all of which seem to linger in mid-tempo reflection. The somatic reflection of “The Lithium Stiffs” and "hey, Bo Diddley" feel of “Dot/Eyes,” with its shuffled thickness, never give way to resolution. That is held until the rocked-out ending track, “Salt The Skies.” Here the band lopes along with vibraphone, bass, guitar, and drums, only to finally segue into a driving conclusion.
But as you know, it isn’t quite over. The future is just beginning.
Track Listing: It
Personnel: Dan Bitney - Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Vibes, Marimba, Keyboards, Baritone Saxophone; Johnny Herndon -
Drums, Vibes, Keyboards, Sequencing; Doug McCombs - Bass, Bass 6, Guitar, Lap Steel; Bass, Guitar,
Percussion, Vibes, Marimba, Keyboards, Baritone Saxophone; Jeff Parker - Guitar, Bass; John McEntire - Drums,
Modular Synthesizer, Ring Modulator Guitar, Electric Harpsichord, Keyboards.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.