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TORTOISE

Post Rock/Math rock • United States


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Tortoise biography
Chicago-based Tortoise have been around since the early 90s. The nucleus of the band is John Herndon, John McEntire, Dan Bitney and Doug McCombs, essentially a double rhythm section although all four are accomplished multi instrumentalists. The band play intricate, highly structured instrumental music that is based around mallet percussion, basses, drums, guitar and keyboards, with extensive use of synthesisers and studio effects.

Their recording career took off in 1994 with the release of their debut album, which was recorded as a 5 piece with Bundy K Brown. The album was well received, but shortly afterwards founder member Brown left and was replaced by former Slint musician Dave Pajo. This line up made the excellent Millions Now Living Will Never Die, the first half of which is a remarkable 21 minute piece called Djed. The band expanded to a 6 piece with guitarist Jeff Parker for their next album, TNT. This third album was recorded over 10 months in a computer equipped studio, and is a dazzling 65 minute collection that is full of hidden nuances and subtlelties. Following this album Pajo left to work on his solo career, and the remaining 5 piece has since made 2 albums, Standards and It's All Around You. All the musicians are also involved in other projects, notably Isotope 217, The Sea and Cake, Chicago Underground and Brokeback. John McEntire has acted as the band's in-house producer, and has also produced acts as diverse as Stereolab (whose Dots and Loops album was partly a collaborative effort with Tortoise) and Wilco, among many others.

Although generally classified as post rock, the music of Tortoise is hard to pin down. They don't play the kind of lengthy drones with enormous crescendoes favoured by bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions In The Sky, but generally favour shorter, rhythmically complex pieces. Some critics have detected a jazz influence, perhaps because of their extensive use of vibes, but there is little room for improvisation in their music and their painstaking studio work is at odds with normal jazz practice. There is a strong influence of minimalist composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley discernible throughout their work, and it is this coupled with the core member's background in the hardcore/alternative scene which probably comes closest to summing their music up.

- Chris Gleeson (Syzygy)

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Buy TORTOISE Music


Millions Now Living Will Never DieMillions Now Living Will Never Die
Thrill Jockey 1996
$10.76
$5.87 (used)
The CatastrophistThe Catastrophist
Thrill Jockey 2016
$9.58
$6.98 (used)
TNTTNT
Thrill Jockey 1998
$9.94
$9.90 (used)
Beacons Of AncestorshipBeacons Of Ancestorship
Thrill Jockey 2009
$8.99
$5.18 (used)
It's All Around YouIt's All Around You
Thrill Jockey 2004
$11.71
$1.99 (used)
StandardsStandards
Thrill Jockey 2016
$7.44
$1.49 (used)
A Lazarus Taxon [3-CDs + 1 DVD]A Lazarus Taxon [3-CDs + 1 DVD]
Box set
Thrill Jockey 2006
$12.94 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Oiseaux Tempete & Bu - The True History Of The Tortoise & The Hare According To USD $15.56 Buy It Now 1h 19m
RONNIE McNEIR-Different Kind Of Love-Rare Northern Soul DJ 45-TORTOISE #JH-11381 USD $75.00 Buy It Now 1h 58m
TORTOISE-TNT{THRILL JOCKEY) JOHN MC ENTIRE USD $5.00 [0 bids]
2h 3m
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TORTOISE - REMIXED THRILL JOCKEY 1998-CD USD $1.50 [2 bids]
6h 59m
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Galapagos 1 Tortoise UK 12" vinyl single record (Maxi) SHELL003 CITY SLANG USD $15.70 Buy It Now 18h 25m
Tortoise 12" vinyl single record (Maxi) DJED UK SHELL001 CITY SLANG 1996 USD $15.70 Buy It Now 18h 25m
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Tortoise Matsumoto - Traveller (CD) Lead singer with the ULFULS - Super Rare USD $6.56 [0 bids]
2 days
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TORTOISE A Digest Compendium Of The Tortoise's Worl JAPAN CD TKCB-70932 1996 OBI USD $37.91 Buy It Now 2 days
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TORTOISE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TORTOISE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 37 ratings
Tortoise
1994
3.72 | 84 ratings
Millions Now Living Will Never Die
1996
3.68 | 83 ratings
TNT
1998
3.37 | 47 ratings
Standards
2001
3.21 | 35 ratings
It's All Around You
2004
2.77 | 13 ratings
Tortoise & Bonnie "Prince" Billy: The Brave and the Bold
2006
3.33 | 29 ratings
Beacons Of Ancestorship
2009
3.80 | 45 ratings
The Catastrophist
2016

TORTOISE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TORTOISE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TORTOISE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
A Digest Compendium Of The Tortoise's World
1996
5.00 | 1 ratings
Remixed
1996
3.43 | 9 ratings
A Lazarus Taxon
2006

TORTOISE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Lonesome Sound
1993
3.00 | 1 ratings
Mosquito
1993
5.00 | 1 ratings
Gamera / Cliff Dweller Society
1995
1.10 | 2 ratings
Why We Fight
1995
3.00 | 1 ratings
Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters
1995
1.00 | 1 ratings
Music For Workgroups
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rivers
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Djed / Tjed
1996
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Taut And The Tame / Find The One
1996
2.00 | 1 ratings
Yaus / Speedy Car
1996
2.00 | 1 ratings
Derrick Carter Vs. Tortoise
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
Tour 1998
1998
2.00 | 1 ratings
Adverse Camber / To Day Retreival
1998
2.87 | 4 ratings
In The Fishtank
1999
1.10 | 2 ratings
Gently Cupping The Chin Of The Ape
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
Why Waste Time?
2010

TORTOISE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Adverse Camber / To Day Retreival by TORTOISE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Adverse Camber / To Day Retreival
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars 'Autechre' is a band composed of two individuals who do a lot of electronic and ambient remixes along with an impressive discography. 'Tortoise', as most proggers know, is a band of several talented individuals, who, along with being very influential in Post Rock, have experimented with several different genres.

The track 'Ten-Day Interval' is a track from Tortoise's album 'TNT'. It is a song driven by a shimmering, arppegiated percussive instrument with a melody played by a piano and various other keyboards. It is an interesting enough son as it is, rather simple and pleasant.

This release is a two sided single that takes Tortoise's 'Ten-Day Interval' and changes it up into two different remixes which are both done by Autechre. The A-side is called 'Adverse Chamber' which is about 6 minutes long. The percussive arpeggios are deeper as are the other sounds, as if everything is done in a lower register. The piano is less conspicuous, but there are more fuzzy electronic sounds evident. It gives everything a more tropical sound. Nothing really seems to stand out much, it just sort of noodles around. The last minute becomes ambient with electronic sounds that linger. The B-side is called 'To Day Retreival' and clocks in just under 4 minutes. This one takes the piano melody and processes the sound to make it more sustained and drone-like. There are some neat sounds and textures on this one which makes it more interesting. I really like this version as it deconstructs the track and makes it new and fascinating.

Both of these tracks are available on Tortoise's rare tracks collection called 'A Lazarus Taxon'. I would suggest getting that collection as it is easier to obtain than this single since it is not available anymore, unless you want to buy it used at an outrageous price. That makes this single obsolete and only for collectors, even though the b-side is quite good. Those that are interested should search out the rarities collection.

 Why Waste Time? by TORTOISE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Why Waste Time?
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars This is a 4-track EP that was released in 2010, the year following the release of the album "Beacons of Ancestorship". This is a decent EP with just enough rare cuts on it to make any Tortoise fan happy.

The first track is "Ruba'iyat" and is exclusive to this release. It is totally improvised and is recorded during the very first pass- thru in the studio. It's hard to believe it is a one-time pass-thru, since it sounds so perfect. It is made up mostly of percussive instruments and sounds with drone-like tones. It is all performed on two different synthesizers, a modified Suzuki Omnichord and the Folktet "Luminist Garden". There is very little editing involved in the final track. It is a very interesting and syncopated track with a lot of depth.

The next track is "Passerine" and it is also exclusive to this EP. It is made up of samples used by the band in their live shows from various songs. The samples include all pieces from all instruments involved in the band (including vocal samples) and they are all in their original form, but what makes them interesting on this track is that they are all used in different ways and in different pairings from normal, which creates a completely different sound and feeling than from their original sources. They are completely unrecognizable in this form. The resulting sound is very experimental, yet dynamic and interesting. The tone is dark and forboding, and in the end, it is a fascinating piece. It gets rather loud towards the middle, then almost drops off completely before the layers rebuild and deconstruct again. There is no melody here, just sounds, noise and even ambience at times.

"Gigantes" appears next. You might recognize it as a track from the previous album, but this is a remix of the original. There is a nice rhythm here, with a lot more of the percussive sounds and louder hand claps than on the original. There is the sound of a sitar (or something similar) during the first part but it is more of a looped sound than the original, but this gives way eventually to some descending synth sounds. Synths continue to give texture in different tones and feelings through the rest of the track, while the percussion continues giving a constant beat all the way through the track. The distorted guitar solo is missing on this remix though, and that brings it down a bit. Also missing is the processed synth start/stop sound from the original. This remix loses the personality of the original in that it is more repetitive. But it's still not bad.

The last audio track is "Ice Ice Gravy" which was only previously available as an iTunes download. This is a 13 minute track of outtakes from the "Beacons of Ancestorship" sessions. The track fades out and in between ideas the band was working with during the recording of the album. The individual snippets are interesting enough, and actually make this track a fun peek at the "Tortoise" composition process. There are several mini tracks here that definitely sound like something that could have developed into some great pieces if they were fully realized. They range from jazzy to rock and boogie, and any of them could have easily been expanded on. Strangely enough, the track is very enjoyable and intriguing. Think of them as mini-tracks, each lasting around a minute or so.

The entire EP lasts about 30 minutes, but in addition to the 4 tracks, there are 3 videos, 2 of which are live performances, and a music video of "Prepare Your Coffin". Overall, this is loaded for an EP. It is also a worthwhile find, because there is a lot of rare and exclusive material here. Tortoise fans will love this one, especially the insight into the band's inspiration process that is given in the track "Ice Ice Gravy". This is also a good introduction to this ingenious band and would be an excellent addition to any collection.

 Why We Fight by TORTOISE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
1.10 | 2 ratings

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Why We Fight
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

1 stars This is a 7" single that was released the year following their debut album. As far as I know, the only album that these two songs appeared on was the collection of rare tracks by Tortoise called "A Lazarus Taxon". It is not easy to find, but you might spot a used copy somewhere out there.

The A Side is "Why We Fight". It is a pretty standard rhythm with a lot of percussive instruments. Bass joins in later and pretty much carries the melody with a guitar. It is quite similar to the debut album, with a no nonsense melody, but the percussion is quite active all the way through it.

The B Side is called "Whitewater". This one is quite experimental, and actually sounds like a backwards song. I wish I had more information on it, but I am pretty sure it's not the backwards version of the A side, because the tone sounds quite different, and the backwards percussion isn't as chaotic as the A side. There is a (mostly) 2-tone alternating drone that follows along.

This is definitely only for completionists. You would be better off getting "A Lazarus Taxon" than trying to track this down. It's not that interesting, but if you are curious enough, get the rare collection instead.

 Tortoise by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 37 ratings

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Tortoise
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Chicago based TORTOISE were one of the pioneers of the American style of post-rock in the early 90s where they, like others in the breakaway from indie rockers, were interested in experimenting with the hypnotic droning possibilities laid down by the Velvet Underground all the way back in the 60s. While bands like Talk Talk and Slint may have fully nudged the subgenere of rock that utilizes rock instrumentation to create varied timbres and textures outside the confines of traditional rock song structures, bands like Cut de Sac, Labradford, Bowery Electric and TORTOISE are cited as the founders of the American flavored stylistic approach which combined Krautrock with dub, jazz, electronica and minimalism. TORTOISE themselves formed in 1990 when bassist Doug McCombs (from Elventh Dream Day) hooked up with drummer John Herndon and set out to create freelance rhythm sections that took the elements of groove oriented genres such as reggae and add more complex elements.

The results of this experimental approach led to the eponymous debut album by TORTOISE which found a total of five musicians cranking out a plethora of different musical sounds from a veritable army of musical instruments including the usual rock suspects such as bass, guitar and drums alongside vibes, marimba, keyboards, sax, harpsichord and tons of synthesizers and effects. The combo effect of all these sounds delivered in an exclusive instrumental parade of sounds is indeed quite unlike many other artists of the days including other early post-rock bands. While incorporating jazzy elements into the overall hypnotic trajectory of the steady flow of rock led electronically tinged space dub, TORTOISE at this point still hadn't honed their skills to the point of such classics as "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" or my favorite "TNT."

The debut album by TORTOISE is exclusively instrumental and all ten tracks ooze by in the mid-tempo range and in retrospect doesn't come off as anything particularly brilliant since in time TORTOISE themselves would conjure up much more interesting post- rock offerings, but they did garner a lot of attention at the time of this release because of the unusual instrumentation of two bassists, three percussionists and an ample use of vibraphones and marimbas. This album also was released with two album covers, both of which i've somehow accumulated. While both are identical artistically speaking with three dots in three squares on a single colored background, one release shows alternating blue and white coloration while the other is of different shades of tan and brown.

Compared to later efforts, the debut by TORTOISE is a downright lazy affair with a steady groove that never gains very much steam or conjures up a lot of changing it up in the ole dynamics department. While they were successful in garnering the attention they needed in order to create a steady movement beyond the basics, the debut album isn't an album that really stands the test of time as does the following albums. While this is a perfectly satisfying hypnotic groovilistic parade of jazzy dub with Krautrock flavored elements simmering on a low lit pilot light, nothing really erupts into anything memorable either and granted TORTOISE were never known for epic extended jaunts that lead to crescendoes such as Godspeed! You Black Emperor, however they were known for an interesting instrumental interplay that doesn't quite muster up an ecstatic satisfaction level on this one. Not bad by any means but it only gets better from here.

 The Catastrophist by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.80 | 45 ratings

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The Catastrophist
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Man what a come back album for this legendary Post-Rock band. Not since their "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" and "TNT" years have they put out such a quality release in my opinion. I picked this up based on the glowing reviews here and am so glad I did. Of course TORTOISE is far from being a typical Post-Rock band as they don't do those slowly building soundscapes that end in a wall of sound, no these guys are quite different from anything I've heard. Some say poppy with plenty of intricate sounds including lots of vibes, sequencing, marimba and synths. We also get lap steel guitar, sax, ring modular guitar and electric harpsichord just to give you a idea of sound. There are two guest vocalists as well. That album cover is hilarious by the way.

"The Catastrophist" features lots of lighter and often higher pitched sounds before it settles into a deep groove with bass, drums and keys standing out. I love when the synths join in before 1 1/2 minutes. Sounds echo as the beat continues. Bass to the fore around 2 1/2 minutes then sax a minute later. "Ox Duke" opens with sounds that echo as the bass and intricate sounds join in. It's fuller after a minute with synths. Love that repetitive feel good melody. Vibes around 3 1/2 minutes as it then turns darker to the end. Two fantastic tracks to get us started.

"Rock On" surprised me big time when I first heard it. Yes that familiar song is a cover of David Essex's 1973 hit that is still played on Classic rock stations today. A deep beat, bass and what sounds like electronics as these manipulated vocals join in. Then vocals stop as the sax honks before 2 minutes then back to our regular programming. "Gopher Island" is just over a minute long and has this fast beat with deep pulsating sounds then it picks up speed with some crazy sounding keys? "Shake Hands With Danger" is my middle name by the way. Another stand out track with intricate sounds as other sounds pulse and beat. The sax starts to blast over top. So cool and so catchy.

"The Clearing Fills" sounds like it has this electronic beat with keys and more. It suddenly turns dark and haunting 3 minutes in. I love this one! "Gesceap" is a track that reminds me of some of HARMONIUM and LA DUSSELDORF works. Those higher pitched intricate sounds with accordion-like sounds does that for me. A beat joins in after 1 1/2 minutes. It does get more intense after 4 minutes then it settles back just before 7 minutes.

"Hot Coffee" is another favourite of mine. Keys echo as a beat and intricate sounds help out. It's building. I like the guitar that comes and goes. Catchy stuff as synths also join in. "Yonder Blue" has a beat and slowish pulsating sounds as the female vocals join in. A dreamy, laid back tune with some keys and guitar as well. "Tesseract" is another catchy track with a beat, guitar, bass and more. I really like that repetitive bass line. "At Odds With Logic" is laid back and relaxed with a beat, guitar and more. Suddenly 2 minutes in it becomes more powerful but slower too. A great way to end this album.

I picked this up fairly early in 2016 after reading a really positive review on here, then more followed. Then before I review this all I seem to see on the RYM site was negativity which I still don't get. Other than I feel I'm much more in tune with the reviewers on this site for the most part. A must!

 The Catastrophist by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.80 | 45 ratings

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The Catastrophist
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After more than twenty years the music of Tortoise is still incredibly hard to pin down. So I turn to guitarist Jeff Parker for an insider's description of the band's eighth and arguably best studio album, which he calls "progressive experimental music with pop sensibilities". You won't find a more succinct analysis of the elusive Tortoise sound than that, and it's almost true.

Some of the material here was first aired in embryonic form as part of a 2010 Chicago commission to celebrate the Windy City's musical heritage. But the much later album far exceeded that original mandate, becoming the band's widest ranging and richest effort to date.

The title track kicks off with some of the nerdiest analog synthesizers heard in forty years: a perfect audio illustration of the album's unfortunate (but eye-catching) cover portrait. After that the stage expands far beyond the shores of Lake Michigan to embrace, and then surpass, all the usual Tortoise detours: lush post-modern grooves; eclectic after-hours lounge bop; jagged ethno-funk with a touch of Krautrock grunge. And, in "Yonder Blue", unexplored territory for this otherwise strictly instrumental group: a truly romantic pop song.

Robert Wyatt was invited (but declined) to be the guest vocalist, which should be a clue to the style of the music. The job eventually went to Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley, to these ears a better fit for such an unexpected change of pace.

And then there's the album's other happy surprise: a left-field interpretation of the 1973 David Essex chart-topper "Rock On". The new version presents a suitably reptilian Tortoise re-imagining of an already oddball novelty hit, miles ahead of the similar but less effective avant-pop covers heard on the 2006 album "The Brave and the Bold" (quod vide, but not a true Tortoise recording).

Even their best fans (let's see a show of hands) would have to admit the music of Tortoise can sometimes resemble academic exercises in Post Rock engineering. But the band has never sounded more relaxed, or been so focused. After two decades of unqualified cult success, is it fair to say the Tortoise quintet has finally emerged from its collective shell?

 The Catastrophist by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.80 | 45 ratings

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The Catastrophist
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars In 2010 the city of Chicago commissioned the members of Tortoise to compose a suite of music honoring the city's jazz and improv community. Some of the music on The Catastrophist originated in embryonic form during that time. However, those ideas were expanded upon for the finished product. Other songs originated from sessions for previous albums while two new songs feature vocals. Unusual for this band but not unheard of; their first single from 1993 had vocals and lyrics, and they had a song on their 2004 album which featured a cut-up wordless guest female vocal. This album is a curious mix of Tortoise by numbers and Tortoise trying to do new things. Their first album since 2009, the multi-instrumentalist members have been busy doing other things since but saved their "that sounds like Tortoise" bits for this album.

There are only two bands that could have made the title track: Tortoise or a band trying to sound like Tortoise. Classic mid-paced Tortoise with a nice melodic twist at the end. "Ox Duke" is more classic Tortoise that would have fit on the TNT album. Another surprise towards the end when everything gets more minimalistic and cinematic sounding. One of the vocal songs here is a cover of the 1973 'one-hit wonder' "Rock On" by David Essex. For a pop hit from 1973, the original was already weird. The version here is more stripped back but also more spacey sounding, the double bass reminding one of early Tortoise. Todd Ritman of noise rock band U.S. Maple does the vocals. This sort of has a similar vibe to the covers album they did back in 2006 with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

"Shake Hands With Danger" is a highlight. This one does not sound era-specific. A simple steady beat throughout but it's what is going on over top that is interesting. Nice guitar tone and melodies here. "Gesceap" was the first song previewed from the album and it's not surprising therefore it's also one of the highlights. Certainly the most energenic song here. Starts out hypnotic and electronic but drums and guitar show up while the synths get less hypnotic and more melodic. The drumming and distorted bass create a tense atmosphere over halfway. "Hot Coffee" originated as an idea during the It's All Around You sessions. Possibly the funkiest thing Tortoise ever did. Another highlight which doesn't sound specific to any era or album.

"Yonder Blue" is the other vocal song. Featuring the vocals and lyrics of Georgia Hubley from indie legends Yo La Tenga. Musically this sounds very un-Tortoise. Easy going and ballad like, the song itself is alright but the production sounds too demo-like in my opinion. "Tesseract" is the jazziest piece on the album. Another standout but could have fit on any of the band's post-TNT albums. I have to admit that every time I listen to The Catastrophist I enjoy it more and more, it's a grower. The vocal tracks don't really reward many repeated listens but the best instrumental tracks show how textured they are. Not the best Tortoise album but neither the worst. Fans of Jaga Jazzists last album may like this. I'll give this 4 stars.

 The Catastrophist by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.80 | 45 ratings

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The Catastrophist
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars It is fair to say that Tortoise are legends in the post rock canon. While surprisingly left in the dust by many in the critical "cognoscenti", especially when the time comes to make that Best of The '90's list, they've made four of the most commanding classics of their genre. From standard post soundscapes that incorporated IDM to beating Do May Say Think at their own energetic game, they tore through musical history before missteping with 2004's "It's All Around You", and after a surprisingly poor collaboration with the similarly legendary Bonnie "Prince" Billy just about got back on their feet with 2009's "Beacons of Ancestorship", though this wasn't a proper return to form, and they fell silent in the studio for seven years.

So they needed a comeback, and did they ever make one. This forgets about the last fifteen years of their career and picks up where "Standards" left off, and so this record is fast paced, tight, and lightly experimental. For the first time they've added vocals to some of their tracks, most notably their surprise cover of David Essex's "Rock On", and do so to unique and strong effect. As well, they've brought back their electronic side, now subbing out smooth IDM in favour of bedroom indietronica, wonderfully complementing their energetic rock. Otherwise, this is an album that would be familiar to people who've dug both "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" and "TNT", one that they'd likely agree with me deserves five stars, and not for necessarily pushing boundaries but for being a solid, fresh, and wonderful listen from a band we came to love for always trying something a little new. Welcome back, Tortoise.

 Tortoise by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.44 | 37 ratings

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Tortoise
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by liontime

5 stars This is my favorite album of Tortoise's. The bass work is elegant and tight, truly spectacular. There's plenty of beautiful math rock polyrhythmic drumming and mallet playing for those interested in highly technical music but what I appreciate most about this album is its consistency. The first nine tracks hang together really well and create an impenetrable atmosphere that makes for a great record to do just about anything to. Usually I listen to it while I go for walks, but I'll play it at work, while cooking, while relaxing and sometimes while reading. The final track begins with a sample from The Who Sell Out (another favorite of mine..) but soon jumps into a pop-centric groove that ties everything together. Can't recommend this listen enough.
 It's All Around You by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.21 | 35 ratings

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It's All Around You
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This Tortoise album is a decent enough sounding release, but it is not one of their best. The overall feeling of this album is experimentation in soft, lounge-sounding jazz, with some nice mellow harmonies and instrumentals for the most part. The sound effects are sparse through the album and there is a rather spare used of distortion and real experimentation, which is what Tortoise is best at. However, when there is a lapse into noise, distortion and experimentation, it is very noticeable, probably because of the soft jazz sound of the majority of the album. These places where the band does get more avant garde and experimental are the best parts however, and that just doesn't happen enough to make it a favorite of mine.

It feels too much like a "safe" album, as if they were trying to make the most perfect album and most accessible music they could and that ends up making it too plain. The vibes which are used extensively through the album are very nice though.

The best tracks here are definitely 5-star prog compositions and stand out the most, namely "Crest" for it's sense of adventure and the distortion that disrupts the piece in the middle, "Dot/Eye" is more of a funky upbeat track with increasing experimentation as the track continues and more of a Math Rock feel to it, and "Salt the Skies" for an almost satirical take on the album which starts out safe enough and then continues to build and increase tension through distortion and noise before slacking off again. These are great tracks, but don't do enough to hold the album up to a 4 or 5 star affair.

Tortoise is a great band that deserves more credit for helping to establish the Post/Math Rock sound and expanding it, but this album is probably not the best example of this as they explore the softer side of their music, and venturing into the lounge aspect of the music. I just like the experimental side of the band more. 3 stars.

Thanks to useful_idiot for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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