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Tortoise It's All Around You album cover
3.23 | 46 ratings | 8 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. It's All Around You (4:09)
2. The Lithium Stiffs (3:59)
3. Crest (4:21)
4. Stretch (You Are All Right) (5:14)
5. Unknown (5:38)
6. Dot/Eyes (3:46)
7. On the Chin (5:21)
8. By Dawn (1:51)
9. Five Too Many (4:33)
10. Salt the Skies (4:45)

Total Time: 43:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Dan Bitney / bass, guitar, percussion, vibes, marimba, keyboards, baritone saxophone
- John McEntire / drums, modular synthesizer, ring modulator guitar, electric harpsichord, keyboards
- John Herndon / drums, vibes, keyboards, sequencing
- Doug McCombs / bass, bass 6, guitar, lap steel
- Jeff Parker / guitar, bass

Releases information

CD Thrill Jockey Thrill 115 (2004 US)
CD Thrill Jockey, Headz Thrill-jp12, HEADZ 20 (2004 Japan)
LP Thrill Jockey Thrill 115, thrill 115, THRILL115LP (2004 US)
LP Thrill Jockey thrill 115, THRILL115LP (2012 US)

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and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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TORTOISE It's All Around You ratings distribution

(46 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TORTOISE It's All Around You reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The great band Tortoise, usually pegged as 'post-rock', generally defy that label and do a wholly original stew of texture, sound effects, and beat-influenced film rock drawing from Ennio Morricone as much as from early Pink Floyd. To me, this entry is not quite as fascinating as their 'Standards' album though still quite unique and expressive. If you're already a fan, you'll likely find 'It's All Around You' to be quite satisfying. For other proggies, I'd say look elsewhere for your Tortoise moment.
Review by Neu!mann
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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "It's All Around You" is the fifth full-length studio album by US, Chicago based post-rock act Tortoise. The album was released through Thrill Jockey in April 2004. Itīs the successor to "Standards" from 2001.

The material on the album is experimental, ambient and at times lounge jazzy or electronic tinged rock. After listening to the album Iīm left in a positive and uplifting mood and Tortoise prove once again that they are the masters of sophisticated and intelligent muzak (I write this with the utmost respect. Please donīt misunderstand this for braindead supermarket/elevator muzak). The music is instrumental but the band has chosen to invite female vocalist Kelly Hogan to sing on "The Lithium Stiffs". The vocals work as another instrumental layer on that particular track though and not really as vocals. All tracks are good quality compositions but if I have to pick a highlight it would be "Crest" with its beautiful synth strings.

The musicianship is excellent. Thereīs subtle and emotional playing all the way through the album. "It's All Around You" features a warm, organic, and powerful sounding production job too, so upon conclusion itīs another good quality release from Tortoise. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the fifth album by Chicago outfit Tortoise. These guys are very consistent, yet no two albums sound the same. I could give all their albums 4 stars with the possible exception of the debut from 1994 and The Brave And The Bold which is really just a cover album with whatshisface.

Although one of the first groups to be labelled "post-rock", their sound is very diverse compared to most bands in that category. The music here is hard to describe. It's generally mellow and easy- going but can sometimes sound sinister and aggressive. The main instruments here are bass, drums and vibraphone/xylophone/marimba. There is plenty of keyboards and guitar as well. Almost no vocals except the female voice put through some computer program on "The Lithium Stiffs". The title track sounds like a cross between dub reggae and some exotic island music. There is a nice melodic guitar/marimba part that gets repeated throughout the song.

At the end of "The Lithium Stiffs" there is a piano part that continues into "Crest", except at the beginning of "Crest" it is now an electric harpsichord instead. Great segue. After about a minute and a half the rest of "Crest" reminds me of '70s Genesis. Seriously, you gotta hear this. Starting with the experimetal "Unknown" we start getting away from the mellow stuff. On "Dot/Eyes" we get some of the more intense music on the album. While "Unknown" sounds like the band is confused and lost(in a good way), "Dot/Eyes" sounds like they are mad and ready for a battle. The drums are the dominant instrument on "Dot/Eyes" which has a hi-hat pattern sustained thru the whole song. Back to the mellow with "On The Chin" whic has some cool organ.

"By Dawn" is another experimental and avant piece. "Five Too Many" has a nice drum pattern and a bassline that gets shared by two basses. The song ends with some Spanish guitar. The band made a video for the last song "Salt The Skies". I'm not sure if it's the only video the band ever made, but it's nothing special. The song the video was made for, however, is the best one on the album. "Salt The Skies" is even more aggressive than "Dot/Eyes". But even this song begins with a mellow part. Once the distorted bass starts it goes into overdrive. In the middle it gets almost metal with the drums and distorted guitars. Even this part has some lovely vibraphone in it. Nope, they couldn't let you off that easy. There is some distorted synth before we get back to the main part of the song. It ends with a brief reprise of the mellow part at the beginning.

For an album released in 2004, this sounds terrific. A rich sound with lots of dynamics. These guys should be more well known than they are. Unique music for the 2000s. 4 stars.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Another indefinable album from this Chicago combo, this time contrasting heavily (image- wise anyway) with their previous albums. Musically, IAAY is again fairly different from previous works of theirs, but it's in terms of artwork that the contrast is greatest. Indeed, Tortoise had gotten us used to minimalist artworks and here we're faced with superb photo-montages of natural and human activities. McEntire and company keep composing music that eludes any classification, even they are generally still lumped in the post rock realm, which they certainly helped create and pioneer, breaking grounds during the 90's. Even if nowadays, most post rock bands are stuck in the GYBE!-type sound, Tortoise keeps away from the common riff raff and occupies a throne of their own.

The instrumental music on this album ranges from modern straight prog to Kraut-ish electro- pop ala Tangerine/Cluster, with an ambient trip-hop-ish (sometimes ala Portishead) and techno twist (sometimes not far from Ozric) sometimes apparent, but still retains a typical post-rock identity. Sounds intriguing, uh?? Believe me, it's even more so after a few listens, even if the album is a bit uneven and can change drastically within a few minutes. Mood-wise, IAAY oscillate from calm electro-pop/techno, to fast ambient music, all the way to relatively harder-edged Scandinavian-sounding prog. The album closes on the fantastic Salt The Skies, where you'd swear they invited Swedish group Anekdoten to play that enthralling and energetic finale, which only gives you the envy to push for the replay button. There are times when IAAY is reminiscent of their future Beacons Of Ancestorship album.

While hardly perfect (that techno-music edge is sometimes a bit too often present for my liking), IAAY is one of their better albums of the 00's (only four, as far as I am aware), but all of them are sufficiently different to be all investigated, but this one would be a good introduction to their realm.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Latest members reviews

4 stars By the time their 5th studio album proper came out, the world of post-rock had already moved on beyond these great innovators and grandmasters; Mogwai, GYBE, Sigur Ros, EITS et al were the new kings with their epic / emo(?) shoegazer-inflected bliss and thunder. Fans of the more experimental st ... (read more)

Report this review (#148108) | Posted by superprog | Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I didn't really feel for Tortoise's record: "standards". The first few tracks blew me away (Seneca, Eros) and the last few ones were very good too, but the rest of the album was a mix of many different things - and the whole thing kind of failed in my eyes. It's All Around you does nothing like t ... (read more)

Report this review (#139298) | Posted by theylitmyflames | Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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