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Tortoise - Beacons Of Ancestorship CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.33 | 29 ratings

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Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is the follow up to The Brave And The Bold, a 2006 covers album with Will Oldham on vocals. I don't consider that album a 'Tortoise' album as much as it is an album featuring the members of Tortoise, if that makes any sense. So when I compare this release with the previous two, I'm talking about Standards(2001) and It's All Around You(2004). To some extent every every album has been a progression from the last. But here they seem to not be doing anything very new, instead trying to focus on the strengths of the previous two albums. The line-up hasn't changed which might have something to do with it.

One thing that has changed is the instrumentation. The trademark vibes are almost nowhere to be found. Rarely is there more than one bass playing at a time, while the guitar seems more important than before. Here most of the songs are drums / bass / guitar / keyboards, while on earlier albums your average song was more bass / drums / bass / vibraphone / keyboards / xylophone. As usual the sound and production is top notch and the playing great. Some of the songs here are a little too short and almost come off as filler.

"High Class Slim Came Floatin' In" opens the album with a cool synth riff. Then it goes into symphonic electronic dub territory. Some ambient funk for awhile. Before 5 minutes gets fuzzy and distorted while the tempo increases slightly. Some hypnotic sequencers to end it. "Prepare Your Coffin" is more rockin' with steady drumming. Nice electric harpsichord. Good mix of synths and guitar. Cool but short guitar solo later on. Some synthetic handclaps. "Northern Something" has an awesome synth riff. This is techno you want to headbang to. Such a great sound but the song is way, way too short.

"Gigantes" has compressed drums going back and forth with some exotic string instruments. Sounds like some Spanish style guitar playing here as well. In the middle is a synth-sounding guitar solo with a cool vibrato effect and great percussion. Synth bass comes in and the song gets more melodic with other synths joining. Some more synthetic handclap sounds here. Some kind of imitated bird sounds at the end.

"Yinxianghechengqi" is the most talked about song on the album. Sort of like grunge meets industrial. A very hard-edged and rockin' song. I don't think it's as shocking as some think; they have lots of harder rocking moments on some of their songs, but this is the first time they concentrated it all into one song. Nonetheless, Tortoise don't usually rock this hard. Gets more spacey and electronic near the end. "The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One" is loungy jazz that sounds like the music to a 1960s spy movie. The drum machine used here sounds like the Roland that Collins/Genesis was using in the early 1980s.

"De Chelly" is an ambient piece with great use of analog synths. The last song "Charteroak Foundation" is one of the best here. Nice arpeggioed guitar and symphonic synths in this song. Great steady drumbeat. Love the melodic synth that comes in around the 2 minute mark. Guitar harmonics in the middle with weird effects.

This would actually make a good introduction to this group, (seemingly) being the most "rock" oriented of their albums. Although I like this album a lot, I feel it's a step down from the previous two. Still, for 2009, experimental instrumental rock hardly got better. If you like their earlier albums, you will most likely enjoy this as well. If this is your first Tortoise album, then you may or may not like anything they did before this. I'll give Beacons Of Ancestorship a 3.5, but I'll bump it up to 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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