Tortoise: New Album


The great majority of artists spend their formative years, if not their entire careers, working to shake off the gravitational pull of their predecessors, and the many masters and masterpieces that came before them. Rare indeed is the artist who outgrows their early influences, and instead become one of the markers by which other groups are measured. Almost alone among bands of the last two decades, Tortoise is a group that resists easy metaphors and analogies, who can be described as sounding like only themselves and no one else. Twenty years after its founding, the band's signature and singularly inimitable sound — a fluid intersection of dub, dance, jazz, techno, rock, and classical minimalism, with no part overwhelming or dominating the whole — remains an American and international original. Even more unusually, they seem to have arrived at their sound with almost no apprenticeship to speak of; to judge from their early singles and albums alone, they seem to have come into being with their musical identity and DNA fully formed, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. Further, while the group has spawned countless imitators, heirs, and followers — sincere, flattering, and otherwise — Tortoise remains unique in the world of contemporary music for their boundless intellectual curiosity, their unmistakable compositional voice, and their synthesis of seemingly contradictory sound worlds far from their doorstep.

Beacons of Ancestorship is Tortoise's sixth full-length album, and their first release of new material in five years, since 2004's It's All Around You. A characteristic Tortoise album is one that traverses an encyclopedia of styles and reference points, a document of where musical intersections and dialogue are occurring at a given moment in time. Beacons of Ancestorship is no different, with nods to techno, punk, electro, lo-fi noise, cut-up beats, heavily processed synths, and mournful, elegiac dirges. We see these ideas working out in compositions like "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In," an eight-minute track which playfully references the world of ecstatic rave and dance culture with a curiously ambivalent, multi-part suite overlaid with robotic, machine-sounding melodies that stop and start in several different time signatures before the song's ultimate resolution; and again in "Yinxianghechengqi," which begins as a straightforward uptempo math-rocker before steadily accelerating into a wall of fuzzy atonal sqwonk.

Tortoise's Beacons of Ancestorship is out June 23 on Thrill Jockey. Additionally, the first track on the album will be included on a Thrill Jockey compilation, Records Toreism, being released on Record Store Day on April 18, and the band will be releasing a series of 5" records following the album's release. Tortoise will also be playing the Pitchfork Music Festival on Friday, July 17. Their performance is part of the "Write the Night: Set Lists By Request" series where ticket holders can vote on which of the band's songs they'd like to hear during their set.

Beacons of Ancestorship track listing:
01. High Class Slim Came Floatin' In
02. Prepare Your Coffin
03. Northern Something
04. Gigantes
05. Penumbra
06. Yinxianghechengqi
07. The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One
08. Minors
09. Monument Six One Thousand
10. de Chelly
11. Charteroak Foundation

Tortoise tour dates available here.

[Published on: 3/26/09]

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Fanofbrew starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/26/2009 01:52PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Excellent!! Loved TNT so I'll definitely be checking this one out!

itscow3 Thu 3/26/2009 02:36PM
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one of the most under rated bands around, i'm fortunate to be in chicago where they are from, wish they played more! they should be the band playing in chicago on new years, not that fake chicago band called umphreys!

zachn00b starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/26/2009 02:46PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Every one of their albums are a work of art...real excited to hear what they have to say this time around

gophish77 Thu 3/26/2009 06:38PM
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"almost alone among bands of the last 2 decades" - total bullshit.

tortoise is fuckin sick tho

fishbone1 starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/26/2009 07:37PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


sounds like solid shit. gonna get my hands on this.

Hotchkiss Thu 3/26/2009 07:55PM
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Gotta agree with you there gophish77. i love tortoise, own and listen to most of their stuff. Anything on thrill jockey for that matter.

but "almost alone among bands of the last 2 decades", not true.

I'm super excited about these 5"s!!

Cookie starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/26/2009 09:44PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I love the song titles, these cats are uber creative and re-invent experimentation. And live they slay!!

SaltyPrem starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/27/2009 09:18AM
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How awesome!

These guys are really cool.

hnkscrpio starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/27/2009 12:02PM
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I love these guys so much, they have to be one of the hardest bands to classify. Cookie put it perfectly, I'm pretty sure they are all multi-instrumentalists as well. It would be great if they played more live shows, especially in Chicago. They are easily going to be worth the price of that Friday night ticket to the Pitchfork Festival all by themselves. Hopefully they get a night set again.

BobbyShortcutShows starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/27/2009 07:40PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


These guys ar elike my heroes i never knew that I should have known. I grew up in the Chi-tilla and have been myself as a player of music have been searching for what I think this band gets closest to. Man if they ever come to the desert they will have one fan 4 sure.