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Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship

Album Reviews:

Spin (p.98) - "BEACONS OF ANCESTORSHIP restlessly shifts from frenetic, bottom-heavy fuzz-rock to snoozy Weather Channel interludes to snarling, techno-tinged world music."

Alternative Press (p.131) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "BEACONS OF ANCESTORSHIP's killer first track is an eight-minute, sour mash of bass-heavy synthesizer funk..."

Down Beat (p.48) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's a big bold statement that trades the ensemble's signature guitar/vibes/snare sound for a swan dive into the synth end of the swimming pool."

Record Collector (magazine) (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Tracks change direction fluidly and often incorporate unexpected sonic textures....A vivid, intelligent album by a singular band."

Signal To Noise (magazine) (pp.66-67) - "BEACONS OF ANCESTORSHIP is a mature effort, mindful of the group's legacy while simultaneously pushing at their musical boundaries..."

Album Notes

Returning after a five-year gap (which, granted, included a box set and a collaborative record with Bonnie "Prince" Billy), Tortoise confronted a pair of age-old musical questions: does anyone really care about an experimental rock group after 15 years, and does said group actually have anything to say after that length of time? BEACONS OF ANCESTORSHIP neatly squashes all those questions and assumptions, revealing a band that is just as fascinated with sound--and just as intrigued by its myriad possibilities--as they were when they debuted in 1993. The time signatures are constantly shifting, the lights of vitality and inventiveness they displayed twelve years earlier are completely undimmed, and the reference points for their music are constantly expanding. The spaghetti Western impressionism of "The Fall of Seven Diamonds Plus One" would be perfect for their excellent TNT LP, and the group get positively off-the-wall at the end, with a pair of songs ("Monument Six One Thousand" and "Charteroak Foundation") that pit guitar lines over drums-and-bass tracks that don't sound as if they were recorded for the same selection. It can be incredibly difficult for an experimental group to continue experimenting for years on end without getting stale, but Tortoise achieve that balance effortlessly.


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