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Tortoise - Standards CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.42 | 55 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's always nice to discover a group of musicians with more than three working brain cells between them, and this semi-legendary Chicago quintet is certainly one of the smartest acts around. Since 1994 they've accomplished something truly rare in today's disposable music market: producing a small but vital body of work with a unique, evolving style that defies easy analysis.

On their fourth studio album (and first in the 21st century) the band obviously made an effort to update their equipment, and their sound alongside it. The music - as always, entirely instrumental - is still drawn around an almost geometrical grid of shifting, overlapping rhythms (three of the five members play bass guitar). But now the beats are stronger than before, and frequently exhibit more aggression than you might expect from the formally attired Post Rock professors depicted on their page here at Prog Archives.

Maybe that extra muscle accounts for the higher overall rating of this album within the greater Tortoise catalogue. By 2001 the band had already polished to a diamond-bright sheen its patented blend of ambient space jazz and Martian lounge music (as heard on the tracks "Firefly" and the second half of "Benway", respectively). But here they add an extra layer of digital trip-hop trance grooves (listen to the twin bookmarks of "Eden 1" and "Eden 2"), creating a seamless, unclassifiable composite as accessible as it is experimental.

As I said: a style that defies easy analysis. Maybe it's enough to say the music of Tortoise, and this album in particular, stands up easily on its own without the crutch of close examination.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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