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Beacons Of Ancestorship

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 23, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Their first new record in over five years. Tortoise have been expanding the definition of rock music for over fifteen years. "Beacons" gives nods to techno, punk, electro, lo-fi noise, cut up beats, heavily processed synths, and mournful, elegiac dirges. CD version is presented in a 4-panel mini-LP style jacket. LP is pressed on HQ 180-gram virgin vinyl and is presented in an old-style top-on gatefold jacket with artworked inner sleeve and MP3 download coupon.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 23, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thrill Jockey
  • ASIN: B0024RICVQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,654 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music
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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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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Format: Audio CD
"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.
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Format: Audio CD
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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By IRate on February 7, 2010
Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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