Beacons Of Ancestorship
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2009
The only thing that overshadows the album itself is their live performance of it. The songs are well structured and find themselves in a niche that only Tortoise seems to fill. The mallet work done in track 4 is impressive as well as inventive, but I think seeing them preform it live really won my heart. If you have ever heard Tortoise before , or if you were brought to this album by a different means, please pick it up. I have not enjoyed an instrumental album such as this in a long time. Lets just hope they can keep 'em coming!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 13, 2009
If you were frightened away from Tortoise a few years back because you found "It's All Around You" a little too tame and muted, then considered said weaknesses to be rectified this time around with "Beacons of Ancestorship." I liked Tortoise's last proper album, but I realize that it wasn't their most popular. "Prepare Your Coffin" helps put the 'rock' back into 'post-rock.' I know, that was bad. But I hope you get my point.

It all sounds like Tortoise just woke up from a very refreshing nap. Not to say they were absent or in danger of dying out. Just like the mammal they are named after, they continue to be able-bodied as they age and may very well surprise us when they reach the geriatric stage. They just take their time getting there is all.

"High Class Slim Came Floatin' In" sounds much like its name. Here comes Tortoise, this high class band hitting the ground with an unassuming yet entirely assured start that shifts gears halfway through. If you liked Tortoise at any point, even if you decided to stop following them in 1996, "Beacons of Ancestorship" has lots entice you back into the pool. I mean, pond. Okay, someone please stop me.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"Beacons" seems a direct outgrowth of allegations that Tortoise had become too smooth, too studied. These rumblings started around the time of the sprawling but otherwise emininently praiseworthy "TNT," intensified after the rock and jazz experimentalism of the surprisingly concise "Standards," and found their nadir with "It's All Around You," which WAS in fact too smooth and studied -- no doubt a critical and commercial low for the band. "Beacons of Ancestorship" feels like a direct response to that perceived creative slump, from its almost obtusely minimal packaging to its percussion-heavy grooves and dialed up tempos. It is a refreshing reprisal on many musical fronts, from banishing the languid pleasantries of the preceding album to bringing back some of the weirder electronic sounds that had established footholds on "Standards."

Tortoise has had to deal with critical backlashes almost from day one -- always "too" this or "not enough" that -- but the energized 45 minutes of this latest offering serve notice, willfully pushing away their more delicate listeners, almost issuing a challenge to verbose and fickle music reviewers. If there is any shortfall to this newly abrasive and challenging iteration of the Tortoise canon, it's a somewhat heavy reliance on processed and distorted synthesizers to carry the melodic ideas of the songs. The more organic elements are subtle and subdued this time around: a staticky fade-out here, some fingerpicked guitar there. It isn't until track 7 "The Fall Of Seven Diamonds..." that a readily identifiable Tortoise-style guitar-and-bass melody appears. This time, Tortoise comes on with a breathless rush, only offering breathing space in the latter half of the album. Like anything good, "Beacons" reveals itself in layers after several listens. In no way should it be characterized as a "step back" or a "return to form" -- those are lazy terms and this is far from a lazy album. Tortoise accomplished everything they set out to with "Beacons:" a refreshed rawness, renewed vigor, slightly punked-up postrock that is most definitely NOT for the uber-hip to playlist for background music at their next poetry reading.

If you liked "Standards," this new album will feel like it's looser, louder cousin.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2010
Yes, I'd have loved TNT Part 2 and yes, I did actually really like It's All Around You but every band needs to progress, I suppose - and Beacons is most definitely a progression. Gone for examples are the ever-present vibes of previous albums, what I always thought of Tortoise's trademark sound. The electric piano, sometimes heavily reverbed, fufils a similar function on this CD though.

The CD sounds unmistakably like Tortoise but it's definitely not TNT Part 2 and it's very different from IAAY.

I'm surprised this hasn't been far more favourably reviewed as I think it's probably their best. Took me a lot of plays though to really feel I'd got it and now can't get some of those gorgeous melodies out of my head.Any yes, there are lots of melodies here in amonst the quirky and the sometimes downright difficult structures and backdrops.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2010
It has become clear Tortoise will never release another TNT, or maybe even Standards for that matter. However, they have become quite efficient at the modest goal of providing intriguingly gyrating soundscapes to occasionally froth over.
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on February 4, 2011
I just can't understand how someone could love TNT and It's All Around You but hate this release. TNT is still my all time favorite, but Beacons is a welcome addition to my playlist.
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on January 15, 2011
Fabulous. All the CD's from Tortoise are great. This is rocking and groovy and thoughtful, everything you would want from a Tortoise CD.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
This was a disappointing album from Tortoise. The first question I have to ask is, where are the vibraphones? Nowhere do you hear vibraphones, and without vibes this album sounds a lot like any other shoegazer album.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2010
I waited eagerly for this package in the post and am still pondering the result. Not quite jazz and perhaps a new fusion of rock and jazz, Tortoise still has me thinking. I do consider they need to move back more to jazz and stop being a semi rock band.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Tortoise
Beacons of Ancestorship; 2009
Thrill Jockey

My Rating: 39/100

Tortoise are one of the grand behemoths of post-rock, making almost-accessible experimental music for some fifteen or sixteen years now. Their first three full-lengths are testimonies to the power of sound, rife with inspiration and vision. Unfortunately, the band started to lose their way with STANDARDS, emphasizing the free-form influences of their jazz leanings over the structured instrumentalism of their earlier work. That didn't ruin STANDARDS, which remains a pretty good record in and of itself, but it bears itself in full bloom on ANCESTORSHIP, their six full-length work. At this point the band seems completely different from the band bearing the same name in the 1990's. Sure, there are interesting and pretty sounds here, but all in all the band seems to have simply lost the plot. I can't really say too much beyond that. The songs just don't have the power behind them to work their way into my head. Instead, BEACONS OF ANCESTORSHIP just sort of bounces off the cranial surface, heading into the abyss of space like radio static. Hope isn't lost for another great Tortoise record, but the band's really gonna have to pull something together next time to get me to listen.

TRACKS:

1. High Class Slim Came Floatin' In (3/5)
2. Prepare Your Coffin (3/5)
3. Northern Something (3/5)
4. Gigantes (4/5)
5. Penumbra (3/5)
6. Yinxianghechengqi (3/5)
7. The Fall of Seven Diamonds Plus One (3/5)
8. Minors (3/5)
9. Monument Six One Thousand (3/5)
10. de Chelly (3/5)
11. Charteroak Foundation (3/5)
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