Tortoise, Standards

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


A noisy, bumptious departure from the post-rock norm.

After following the most studious tenets of post-rock on TNT, Tortoise crinkled up the blueprint for Standards, an album that layers noise and bumptious grooves into their more cautiously moody meditations. Opening with a static splash of guitar reminiscent of free-jazz titan Sonny Sharrock, "Seneca" wanders into a tight rock beat spied from a number of different angles; laced with echo, drum-machine taps and dense drum fills played by band leader John McEntire, the rhythm swings and cackles in a way that Tortoise had tended to suffocate out in the past. "Eros" provides a great bit of body-locking electro-funk, with bonus xylophone riffs to point back toward classical minimalism. Tracks like "Firefly" slow down to a ghostly, atmospheric lull, but by "Six Pack," the same guitar and keyboard tones are galloping with something like a wink below their brooding brow. Standards shows Tortoise at their most snappy and effervescent, playing like a band stoked by expansion more than negation.