Boomkat Product Review:
Beacons Of Ancestorship actually represents the first new material from the Chicago band in five years, although since 2004's It's All Around You there's been little time for resting on laurels, with the four-disc collection of rare material A Lazarus Taxon and covers album The Brave And The Bold (a collaboration with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) both arriving in the interim. 'High Class Slim Came Floatin' In' immediately reintroduces you to that twisty-turny Tortoise modus operandi, yanking you between stutter-funk basslines and sharp hip-hop beatdom whilst remaining unafraid of plunging you headlong into a kraut-jazz maelstrom when you least expect it. One of the principal reasons for Tortoise being able to get away with all their musical chicanery is that John McEntire's production is so shatteringly brilliant - stuffed with bass and boom, yet crisp and clear where it counts, there's a uniquely robust quality to this album that prevents you from getting mired in its more angular moments. 'Prepare Your Coffin' is a Stereolab-esque blast of fractal melodies and harpsichord twang, offering a more energetic and instantly rewarding slant on Tortoise's labyrinthine instrumental prowess. The mood switches all over again for 'Northern Something' which finds the musicians tackling the idiom of dubstep and knuckling down to some gnarled, wobbling basslines that carry a certain sub-heavy analogue roughness you wouldn't ordinarily hear from the genre. As the piece continues McEntire's live kit drums join in, creating a kind of prog-dancehall feel. It's an unexpected highlight of the LP, and even though it marks something of a left turn doesn't break with the exploratory, rhythmically agile tone of the record. Amongst its more frenzied, kaleidoscopic moments 'The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One' drops the levels of urgency down to a maudlin, atmospheric lurch and condenses a multitude of references into a single, wildly inventive slab of sound. Fusing downbeat, cinematic jazz a la Kryzstof Komeda with Morricone Western soundtrack effects (complete with chain-rattling metallic percussion) whilst maintaing an over-saturated, dub-influenced production style that's impossible not to love. Highly recommended.