July 23, 2009


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Tortoise, Beacons of Ancestorship
Thrill Jockey Records, June 23

It’s embarrassing to be a rock wag at times, such as when one of us dreams up a catch-all lump that most people hate, and, even worse, have a legitimate reason for hating it. I speak of “post-rock,” the rubber-stamp that’s blackened the foreheads of singer-less bands Don Caballero and Tortoise; a deconstructive, cool-sounding term meant to imply rock instruments used in a non-rock fashion, but in retrospect was obviously a wimp’s way out for the (rather clumsy) writer to say “I hereby punt.”

So anyway, these post-rock Tortoise fellows are here again to confuse critics and enthrall their cult following, all while the question “Why on earth would anyone want to do this stuff in the first place?” goes, once again, unasked. Past that, they’re quite unique, a wetworked-oldschool-electro yin to Don Cab’s metallic yan, and many’s the time they trip over great jams while throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the wall. One cannot hate on their Kraftwerk-ian core values, as that would be gauche, like dissing Elvis to their funny little fans. I’ll simply journalize, then, that this next step in the band’s evolution exhibits some (quite a bit at the outset, actually) attributes of nuevo-technoids like Justice/Hot Chip, there’s a kaleidoscopic 5/8 time pattern in there, and fans will find plenty of cool beauty. BEWS