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Tortoise Beacons of Ancestorship

  • Words: Dave Segal
  • Label: Thrill Jockey
  • XLR8R Rating: 8/10

It’s All Around You represented a nadir for Tortoise, as the veteran Chicago avant-rockers gave in to their blandest proclivities and forged a Muzak™ tribute to themselves. Nearly five years later, however, Tortoise has regained the inventiveness and excitement of its best work. Beacons of Ancestorship begins with perhaps Tortoise’s greatest moment—“High Class Slim Came Floatin' In,” where Terry Riley-esque organ ostinatos cycle above a badass prog riff and, later, a powerful, Can-like motorik chug. “Yinxianghechengqi” shocks with Big Black-like speed-metal funk; it’s Tortoise’s most aggressive track in years. Much of Beacons explores Tortoise’s love of complex prog/fusion song structures and time signatures, but now they’re infusing these qualities with more verve than previously. Tortoise got their groove back—finally.

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