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Tortoise - It's All Around You CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.21 | 42 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The sound of this celebrated Windy City quintet is, as always, nearly impossible to pin down. But the futuristic sci-fi lounge beat of the band's fifth studio album offers a preview of what the cooler kids on the block will be grooving to in the 23rd century.

The group has changed and matured with every new release since their 1994 debut, but this album (marking ten years together, quite an accomplishment all by itself) is the first to sound not unlike its immediate predecessor, the recommended "Standards", from 2001. The two could almost be packaged together as a double-disc, which might explain the relative letdown experienced here: after three years, it's a little disappointing not to hear this always innovative band breaking new stylistic territory.

But at least it's a high-caliber rut they're stuck in. The album, attractively underplayed (as usual), is still very rhythmic, built around a variety of percussions: electric and acoustic, analog and digital. Guitars, when heard at all, are used more for color and texture, and the overall design follows a well-established Tortoise tradition of inscrutable cover art coupled to instrumental music of unfathomable individuality.

Sometimes a welcome harshness enters the usually cool mix, as in the throbbing industrial percussion and noise of "Dot / Eyes", or the briefly overamped guitar feedback in the middle of "Crest". But generally it's an even more polished production than usual, perhaps too much so: the bright digital sound in some places lacks the organic warmth of earlier Tortoise efforts.

Nevertheless, it's a pleasure to find such unfashionable music still being made today, and still able to reach a discerning audience.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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