144

Tortoise: Standards

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Tortoise: Standards With its '94 self-titled release, Chicago's wunderband Tortoise carved out a comfortable niche for the genre now known as post-rock. In the intervening years, other groups have borrowed from Tortoise's seminal ideas, but precious few have managed to get it right. Several sides later, Tortoise is still redefining the magic.

The title of Standards might suggest a misleading double entendre to jazz fans, so don't go into the disc expecting to hear tunes like "Autumn Leaves" or "Nardis." The unstated assertion (with plenty of evidence presented) is that these pieces will become the standards for the new millenium. Regardless of orientation, listeners curious about the intersection of improvisation with electronic production will find ample evidence on Standards.

The basic concept behind Tortoise, originally masterminded by studio wizard John McEntire, is to take live improvisation as the foundation for constructing a textural sound collage in the studio. On Standards, the group refines this idea in a fresh and inspired collaboration. While "clean" sounds tend to predominate in lead positions, a lot of the action in the rhythm department bears evidence of manipulation. You won't find any sterile drum machine hits, but instead full-bodied "live" sounding blocks pulled together to overwhelm and defeat the simplicity of 4/4 rhythm. During production, sounds originally generated by keyboard, bass, and drums undergo a careful process of recombination, reprocessing, and recontextualization.

The mellow groove that results can support a polyrhythmic whole—with or without a explicitly stated melody on top. When a distinct melody does appear, it often plays a role akin to the typical jazz melody over standard changes. Through the process of improvisation, the players interconnect different segments, introduce occasional tidbits of dissonance, and in the process accentuate the "live"-ness of the record.

For new Tortoise initiates, Standards can serve as a fine starting point. (Logic might dictate going for the debut disc Tortoise first, but each of these fully-assembled units functions perfectly well on its own.) More experienced post-rock listeners will find the new disc a fine complement to the ever-expanding Tortoise oeuvre: more detailed, cleverly assembled, and mystically subtle than earlier material.


Track Listing: Seneca; Eros; Benway; Firefly; Six Pack; Eden 2; Monica; Blackjack; Eden 1; Speakeasy.

Personnel: Doug McCombs; Johnny (Machine) Herndon; John McEntire; Dan Bitney; Jeff Parker; Casey Rice.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Thrill Jockey | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks" CD/LP/Track Review Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "New Shoots" CD/LP/Track Review New Shoots
by Mike Oppenheim
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "True Love Collection" CD/LP/Track Review True Love Collection
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Everybody's Somebody's Nobody" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody's Somebody's Nobody
by John Sharpe
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: November 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!