Tortoise Discover New Territory On “The Catastrophist’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


tortoisealbumTortoise begin The Catastrophist auspiciously, much like their long experimental career— introducing us to synth keys that belong in the 8-bit realm medium. It eventually teeters off into normal territory, at least considered for their world. Where their earlier works are more revered because of their playfulness, ambition with an aura of sparseness, The Catastrophist manages to fluidly incorporate a myriad of instrumentation to form a cohesive sound. Essentially what they’re known for the past 25 years:  jazz, post-rock, blues, it goes on and on, but after a long hiatus you’d think they’d have something just as weird and out of place as its opening, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything as out of left field from their extensive work.

Instead, their latest offers darkly atmospheric rhythms in “Ox Duke,” the second vocal track with Georgia Huble from Yo La Tengo on “Yonder Blue,” or “The Clearing Fills,” which sounds like a b-side from 1996’s landmark Millions Now Living Will Never Die. “Rock On” is probably the most surprising from the group, as it mixes doom blues style seen from the likes of Grails but not in the conventional sense, it feels stripped to its bare bones, despite its off-setting feel it is countered by the sensual “Yonder Blue.”  There is an undercurrent of the same experimental jazz styling that Tortoise have embraced for decades, whether that be from its muddied or clearly apparent appearances displayed in “Shake Hands With Danger.”

Every sequential track finds its own ground into new or familiar territory, which is why The Catastrophist isn’t a “been there done that” foray for such an accomplished group. Where 2009’s Beacons of Ancestorship, in more ways than one fell flat on its face, their return with The Catastrophist manages to stealthily shift rhythms with ease and incorporate moods with their musicianship almost habitually. With all of these elements battling each other, it handles well to feel like a mutually collected vision from the onset. Where most in their place would end up sounding disjointed and prolonged, Tortoise have found their sweet spot again. The elegant moments truly carry the record, undoubtedly at its peak in the middle of its sometimes meandering format “Gesceap” moves through its transitions effortlessly, and reminds us of why they’re so revered. While you’ll find moments of familiarity with The Catastrophist, it is the band’s willingness to move into new territory and mixtures of all kinds of electronic dispositions of nu-jazz, downtempo, and the like with a whim that keeps you keen on what they’ll try next.


Related Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide