Exposé Online banner

Tortoise — Beacons of Ancestorship
(Thrill Jockey THRILL 210, 2009, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Scott Steele, Published 2011-06-01

Beacons of Ancestorship Cover art

What if Can and Cluster merged? Grinding retro-sequencers and synthesizers have an old eight-bit tone to them on this record – the funny result is like Kraftwerk totally rocking out. Yes, the Chicago consortium rocks more on this album than on any of their previous post-jazz efforts, trying to broaden their commercial appeal without losing their quirky side. Like a distant cousin of Mark Isham’s Group 87, they have a funky-electronica approach which wears you down track by track. Epic guitar melodies arc over taut Krautrock grooves. Punishing attack-cruiser synthesizer robots curse and swear over Brazilian festival snare drum players, and hammer dulcimer solos pling and plang over interlocking, automated sambas. If this group hits the road, it won’t be a moment too soon and we’ll be standing right up in front, curious to see how these guys can pull it off on the live stage. Best tracks include a very noisy punk tune entitled “Yinxianghechengqi” that starts by blowing out your speakers, then throwing some impossible chord changes at you before finally winding up sounding like “Telstar” played by the Butthole Surfers. Western guitar and soap opera organ wend their way through the clever surf ballad called ”The Fall of Seven Diamonds Plus One.” This CD is highly recommended to all fans of Klaus Schulze, Glenn Phillips (the guitarist from Atlanta who was in the Hampton Grease Band), Sonic Youth, Philip Glass, the jammier side of Traffic, Nels Cline, Pekka Pohjola, Godley/Creme, Cluster, and Steve Hackett’s distortion pedal.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): Tortoise

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bill Bruford with Ralph Towner and Eddie Gomez - If Summer Had Its Ghosts – When Bill Bruford is on break from his drum duties with King Crimson, what would you expect him to do? Should he go on vacation or work in another less hectic, but rewarding mode? If Summer Had Its...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues