Throughout their 10-year history, Tortoise have been one of the most singularly dynamic bands in modern music. With each record they have not only redefined their own sound, but helped to nudge music itself in unique and exciting new directions. Their members are perpetually involved with multiple projects, thus it is quite noteworthy that It's All Around You, Tortoise's fifth full-length, is the first album that the band has ever made without a single lineup change. The results of this are a record that is the product of five distinctly visionary musicians who are able to synergistically unite like never before. This consistent lineup also allowed the band to move forward in directions that were previously unexplored, and It's All Around You contains a number of Tortoise firsts.
It's All Around You was written largely in the studio, in the midst of recording, over the course of a full year. This allowed Tortoise to use John McEntire's Soma Electronic Music Studios (whose clients include Wilco, Stereolab, and many others) not just as a state-of-the-art recording facility but as a compositional tool as well. It took months of continuous writing, recording, tinkering, mixing, and perfecting to bring It's All Around You to its finalized state. Tortoise are one of the only bands of their size and status who have always produced their own records, and it largely because of this that they are able to achieve and maintain such a distinct and precise sound. The band's extensive knowledge of the studio's equipment allows them to use it for composing, editing, and coloring their compositions. The band are very at home in this environment, and without a restrictive deadline (normally present with hired producers/studios), the band can explore a multitude of approaches. The results of this process are clear in the lush, orchestrated tones, intricate melodies, and densely elaborate rhythms that make It's All Around You Tortoise's most adventurous and thoughtful record to date. These songs build deliberately and consistently, amassing music of great detail; exploring their layers is both exciting and infinitely rewarding.
Over the past decade, Tortoise have produced some of the most innovative and influential albums in all of music. From the deep and understated rhythms and tones on their 1996 landmark, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, to the bombastic rock of 2001's Standards, Tortoise have always been ahead of their time. It's All Around You finds Tortoise doing what they do best; building and rebuilding upon melodies and rhythms with their own remarkable touch. A song like "On The Chin," born of a guitar line that Jeff Parker and Doug McCombs wrote, is transformed into a something delicately complex, fiercely catchy, and unmistakably Tortoise.
Contributing to and resulting from Tortoise's diverse musical talents are the multitude of other musical projects that each member pursues. In between the recording of Standards and It's All Around You Tortoise's members have kept extremely busy. John McEntire has recorded/mixed bands such as The Sea and Cake (of which he is also a member), US Maple, Beans, Radian, Chicago Underground, Neil Michael Hagerty, Savath & Savalas, and many others. Future projects include Tuxedomoon, Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake, and Teenage Fanclub. John Herndon made his first solo album as A Grape Dope (Missing Dragons, on Galaxia), recorded with Savath & Savalas, The Aluminum Group, The Eternals, and Beans. John also toured as A Grape Dope, opening for Prefuse73, and playing drums along side Scott and DJ Leb Laze in the P73 live band earlier this year. Doug McCombs released his third Brokeback album (Looks At The Bird, on Thrill Jockey), and played shows with Eleventh Dream Day (of which he is a founding member), and Abeliene. Jeff Parker has played in a large number of jazz and improvising ensembles (alongside players such as Josh Abrams, Guillermo Gregorio, Chad Taylor, Nori Tanaka, Michael Zerang, Kevin Drumm, and others. He released a solo album (Like Coping, on Delmark). He recently recorded with Joshua Redman and Azita, and is writing horn arrangements for the next Aluminum Group album. Dan Bitney has produced a number of "mutant home studio jams" for AV band Spectralina, in which Bitney provides digital musical manipulation and drumming for Selina Trepp's poetic, political, and abstract visuals. In addition to all of this, McEntire and Parker will be contributing short audio pieces to the "1%" project, a permanent sound installation which will be set up in the elevators of the new Paris Ministry for Culture and Communication. McEntire, Herndon and Bitney will be producing an album of original breakbeats, samples, and grooves this winter, intended for DJ and music production use. The group will also be contributing an original track to the upcoming feature film "Moog," a documentary about the life and times of electronic music pioneer Robert Moog.
Live On Stage:
Tortoise falls somewhere in the realm between rock, jazz and electronica - it's a bit of a gray area, but one that makes for some dynamic music. If you're a fan of MMW, you're sure to dig these guys. Here they are with "Magnet Pulls Through & Eden"....
Couple of shows you might want to check out....
Tortoise - 2006-09-14 - Great American Music Hall - San Francisco CA
Tortoise - 2005-07-17 - Intonation Fest - Union Park - Chicago, IL
Check out this very arty video for "Salt The Skies" - the visuals seem to fit perfectly with the moody music....
Few more for you...
Four Day Interval
For more on Tortoise make your way over to their official website.
Thursday, May 31, 2007