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Tortoise: Standards

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (3/1/01, pp.51-2) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...These instrumentals flirt with structure more intently than [they] have in the past....To be smart and original, playful and provocative - these are the standards...they achieve here as ingeniously as ever."

Spin (4/01, pp.154,156) - 7 out of 10 - "...Somewhere between the album we've been waiting for Eno to release since MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS and the album we wish Phish would stop releasing altogether....a cohesion of styles and impulses so tight we might call it originality..."

Entertainment Weekly (2/23/01, p.163) - "...A thing of strange beauty, with melodies and sensations slipping in and out of focus. It's mood music for post-post-moderns..." - Rating: B+

Q (4/01, p.113) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Somewhere between Zappa at his most playful and the smarter end of prog-rock with lots of post-rock oddness naturally, this is the Tortoise record you can recommend to your more staid friends without losing them."

Alternative Press (2/02, p.65) - Ranked #16 in AP's "25 Best Albums of 2001".

Alternative Press (3/01, p.94) - 4 out of 5 - "...Makes the most of [their] intellectual side...without ever losing sight of the music's ability to do more than engage the mind....The environment is controlled and precise, but the atmosphere is relaxed and alive."

Magnet (4-5/01, p.95) - "...Like Herbie Hancock wandering through the '80s, all lost at the jazz-fusion supermarket..."

The Wire (1/02, p.40) - Ranked #27 in Wire's "50 Records of the Year 2001".

Muzik (2/01, p.53) - 4 out of 5 - "...Technically precise it may be, but the emotional pay-off in tracks like 'Black Jack' and 'Eden 1' shatters those 'math-rock' preconceptions in precisely 2.76 seconds."

CMJ (2/12/01, p.4) - "...Sounding like an organic band again, molding jazz-rock grooves, abstract interplay and conceptualist post-isms into a sound so comfortably relaxed, recognizable and...fun, you'd never think anyone could accuse them of being overly intellectual..."

Down Beat (4/01, pp.62-3) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Highly palatable anthems boasting syncopated rhythms, crunching fuzz-toned guitars and meaty analog electronics..."

Mojo (Publisher) (1/02, p.71) - Included in Mojo's "Best Underground Albums of 2001".

Mojo (Publisher) (3/01, p.91) - "...Finds the group playing with more intent and imagination - and sounding better - than ever before..."

NME (Magazine) (2/17/01, p.46) - 7 out of 10 - "...Like Stephen Hawking doing that physics experiment with springs and a clamp stand..."

Album Notes

Tortoise: Douglas McCombs (guitar, lap steel guitar, bass); Dan Bitney (guitar, baritone saxophone, keyboards, vibraphone, marimba, bass, percussion); John McEntire (guitar, electric harpsichord, synthesizer, keyboards, drums); Jeff Parker (guitar, bass); John Herndon (keyboards, vibraphone, drums, programming).

Recorded at Soma Electronic Music Studios, Chicago, Illinois in 2000.

Chicago's post-rock godfathers Tortoise use STANDARDS as an opportunity to scale down from the computer-based constructions of their previous TNT. Instead of incorporating their former cut-and-paste method of composition on their fourth full-length album, the quintet return to playing and interacting with each other in a live setting, resulting in a much more organic feel.

The opener "The Benway" begins STANDARDS auspiciously, with rubato bursts of distorted guitar and free-floating drums, in an homage to jazz-rock guitarist Sonny Sharrock. From here on anything goes, as plaintive analog synth melodies vie with electronically processed percussion, Jeff Parker's trademark angular guitar riffs, and some of the trashiest-sounding drums this side of NUGGETS. As ever, Tortoise incorporates elements of electronic music, modern classical, experimental/avant garde, and hip-hop in a format that references the group's rock roots without ever bowing to rock convention.


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