Uncut (9/02) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...TORTOISE still sounds both gripping and, in no small way, revolutionary."
Option (11-12/94, p.151) - "...Tortoise makes music that's strictly for musicians. It's the kind of precise, methodical, endlessly repetitive performance that pays much more attention to sound texture and the interplay between the players than to rhythm, melody or song structure..."
Melody Maker (5/16/00, p.46) - 4.5 stars out of 5 - "Chicagoan post-rocker's debut album, and still their best. Out of the weird, spooky, clanking noises come 'proper tunes'. Xylophones have never sounded sexier..."
Tortoise: Dan Bitney, John Herndon, John McEntire, Douglas McCombs, Bundy K. Brown.
Recorded at Idful Music Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, from November 29 to December 5, 1993.
Unless you go back to their '70s influences (everything from dub to fusion to Eno), very little prefigured the arrival of Chicago's Tortoise. They helped create and virtually define what became known as post-rock, venturing beyond pop/rock song-structure and forsaking lyrics altogether in search of a newer, more expansive style. This self-titled debut finds the band embryonic but undeniably accomplished.
The dub influence on Tortoise's largely rhythm-based tracks is at its strongest here, and the interplay of bass, drums, percussion and marimba forms the nucleus of the sound. The Steve Reich and Ennio Morricone-influenced modes the band would later explore are faintly suggested. Instead, the aesthetic balances a spacey propulsiveness with an inexplicable density in a combination that marks TORTOISE as the band's most urgent document.