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Music Consumption: Tortoise
03/02/2001 Tortoise: Standards

I first listened to it in the PowerBook in a hotel room in pre-earthquake Seattle, and didn't know quite what to make of it. Maybe it was the small, trebly speakers or something, since once I got it home (missed the earthquake by three hours) it really began to grow on me, and fast becoming a favorite--these guys just keep on getting better! The first tune, "Seneca," begins with a turning-on-the-analog-tape sound, followed by 60-cycle amp hum, which amounts to a "we're ready to rock" signifier. And...rock they do. Drum rolls and modal gestures toward Hendrix's "The Star-Spangled Banner," going for two minutes before...it dies down. And then comes the funkay distorted beetz. It's actually explosive, with great drumming and guitar playing. The atmospheric screams-under-an-overpass work well, too as texture, and the next song, the Harry-Partch-influenced "Eros," is a perfect smart cool-down from the first track. It stays good from there, with perhaps a few missteps in the up-up-and-away vibe break in "Benway" and the lurve-music opening of "Monica." But it's all good, particularly the two "Eden" cuts, which have a mighty groove. It's the smartest ass-moving music you'll hear this year. They rock, get funky, atmospheric...it's good.

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