Since the release of its latest studio album, It’s All Around You, in 2004, Tortoise has been splitting its time between box sets (2006’s A Lazarus Taxon), hanging with Will Oldham (2006’s The Brave and the Bold), and various side-projects (Exploding Star Orchestra, Bumps, Fflashlights, and Powerhouse Sound). By the looks of the recently issued press release announcing the Chicago outfit’s latest studio creation, it also appears the quintet has been spending quite a bit of time in the library, searching for the biggest and bestest words to describe its sixth studio album.
And like the box set, cover album, side-projects, and nearly every other thing Tortoise has done in its twenty year existence, the trip to the library was successful. Just look at some of the ways the band is describing the 11-track Beacons of Ancestorship:
Tortoise remains unique in the world of contemporary music for their boundless intellectual curiosity, their unmistakable compositional voice, and their synthesis of seemingly contradictory sound worlds far from their doorstep.
A characteristic Tortoise album is one that traverses an encyclopedia of styles and reference points, a document of where musical intersections and dialogue are occurring at a given moment in time. Beacons of Ancestorship is no different, with nods to techno, punk, electro, lo-fi noise, cut-up beats, heavily processed synths, and mournful, elegiac dirges.
There are many moods, styles, and modes in the Tortoise songbook, of courseoften, in the course of a single composition. Consistent throughout, however, is what might be called a pervasive element of group play, or ensemble-mindedness, as opposed to emphasis on a virtuoso soloist or frontman. (Think Robert Altman versus Robert Plant.)
Ok, I’m going to stop it there, or my head might explode.
Basically, here’s what you need to know: Tortoise has a new album coming out on June 23rd via Thrill Jockey. It’s entitled Beacons of Ancestorship. It sounds like it’s going to be really good. Additionally, the first track on the album will be included on a Thrill Jockey compilation, Records Toreism, being released on Record Store Day on April 18th, and the band will be releasing a series of 5″ records following the album’s release. And finally, on July 17th, Tortoise will play the Pitchfork Music Festival with Built to Spill, The Jesus Lizard, The National, and maybe The Flaming Lips…
Beacons of Ancestorship Tracklist:
01. High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In
02. Prepare Your Coffin
03. Northern Something
07. The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One
09. Monument Six One Thousand
10. de Chelly
11. Charteroak Foundation
Tortoise 2009 Tour Dates:
05/29 – Buffalo, NY @ Tralf Music Hall
05/30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Bell House
05/31 – New York, NY @ Bang on a Can Marathon
06/12 – Athens, GR @ Synch Festival
07/17 – Chicago, IL @ Pitchfork Music Festival