Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship

Music Reviews
Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship

Chicago experimentalists’ latest covers wide territory, with mostly positive results.

Tortoise is one of the rare groups that defy easy classification despite their status as founding fathers of the late-’90s post-rock boom. Their newest album, Beacons of Ancestorship, is a winsome marriage of that knack for genre cross-pollination to an eminently accessible pop-eletronica tenor. It’s also the closest the quintet has ever come to a propriety-be-damned dance album.

gAncestorship is an album of manifold musical appropriations; the spaced-out phrygian guitars of “Gigantes” give way to the frenetic punk of “Yinxianghechengqi,” followed by the somber and churchlike “De Chelly.” Tortoise steadies these diverse flirtations with an assembly of computerized beats and synth lines that recall the electro-prog meanderings of post-Hackett Genesis. There’s plenty here for diehards to dissect (Wilhelm scream, anyone?) but the album’s real draw is its outright appeal to those unversed in the band’s back catalog.

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