Album Review: Beacons of Ancestorship - Tortoise

Some years in the making, Tortoise's seventh album proper (and their first proper release in five years) kicks off with a certain swagger. 'High Class Slim Came Floatin' In' sounds like David Holmes at his best - timeless yet wearing contemporary inspiration loud and proud.

The rest of Beacons of Ancestorship maintains a similar vibe, giving the whole album a highly cinematic feel. There are the abstract, rhythmic noodlings of 'Gigantes', the tight funk of 'Northern Something' - every track feels like a soundtrack to a different film. It, much like the rest of Tortoise's catalogue, may initially feel difficult to penetrate but once you stop actively LISTENING you start to appreciate its spaces and spikey, angular left-turns.

Instrumental music tends to fall into two categories - that which suffers from a slight lack of emotion (minimal, techno) and that which boarders on melodramatic (Sigur Rós, trance music generally). Beacons of Ancestorship ultimately falls into the former category and that is a fact that will undoubtedly act as a barrier to anyone that hasn't experienced Tortoise's music before, but in focusing on the music itself Tortoise manage to capture more depth and texture than most.

Beacons of Ancestorship is an album of different vibes and moments. The smokey, moody last chance saloon of 'The Fall of Seven Diamonds Plus One' for example may take more work but the feelings it evokes clearly warrant the investment.

Hop in the car, roll down the window, stick this in the stereo and go on a roadtrip. Beacons of Ancestorship is a weird, twisted, dangerous adventure.

Beacons of Ancestorship is available now on Thrill Jockey.  Order from on CD or LP [affiliate link].

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