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Tortoise - Standards CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.42 | 55 ratings

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2 stars What starts as a monumental processed drum barrage with twangy, ringing notes on a majestic guitar soon settles down into a more album-typical groove on Standards.

Deftly interlocking rhythmic structures come together in an electronica-infused instrumental clockwork, where buzzy or electronically clean trip-hop-ish percussion snap and pop beneath this well-defined algorithm of simple but countless little melody lines and effects. It's punchy, clinical and occasionally busy or mechanical, but given a certain level of fluidity by removing and adding new parameters in a model only known to the band members themselves.

I would hardly call it properly atmospheric, since all the sounds are so very clearly delineated. There is room for a certain warm and suave lounge ambience to seep into the arrangements, especially during the jazzier bits that represent the other side of the album, but it's more of a slick, cerebral nature than something that touches me emotionally. At time it's a bit more ambiguous and coldly space-like in what it radiates, but still safely kept away from any kind of excess. Disciplined and moderate.

Regardless of all the little chimes, buzzes, twirls and prattle and an objectively rather rich instrumentation, the majority of the compositions feel a bit vacuous, a bit too deflated and sparse, to really live up to the potential. It's the feeling of a vast and pure white canvas with just enough paint to cover it in dots here and there. Decently colourful patterns occasionally emerge, but most of them struggle to convey a proper image. And just as things actually do come together and send some experimental sparks flying, away we glide on a nondescript and airy slippery slope into anonymous jazzy smoothness. But perhaps that slight minimalistic streak, the abstract lightness and fleeting nature of it all is what so speaks to people. To me it's only the busiest arrangements that really work, and they are occasionally a joy to listen to.

Clever, professional, but ultimately disappointing.

2 stars.


LinusW | 2/5 |


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