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

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Garden Wall - Principium – Garden Wall are an Italian neo-prog four-piece who have recently released this, their first album. If the name of the band sounds familiar to you, recall Garden Wall was one of the names Genesis...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues