It's All Around You
||"It's All Around You"
It's All Around You, the fifth album in Tortoise's 11-year
career, is a sprawling, epic statement to something. (I'll explain
that in a moment.) Everything you've come to know and expect from
them is still here: vibraphone lines, shimmering guitars, cascades
of digital warmth and trickery, and attention to the beat. Possibly
a soundtrack to an imaginary film
you may have heard that
one before, but it applies here too, if not more than ever. The
title track which opens the album sounds big. Think cinematic,
as in the "The Matrix" or introspective, as in the next
Sofia Coppola film.
The second track, "The Lithium Stiffs" begins with soft,
warm waves of ethereal melancholy. Digitized "aaahhh's"
from a human voice, a first for Tortoise, are triggered over a
propulsive shifting rhythm-scape before gradually giving way to
a slow rising piano march up into the clouds. In contrast, "Dot/Eye"
punches open with a searing delayed guitar loop over spinning
drums and rapid-fire fills. Sci-fi shards of sound mix with an
alternating assortment of dubbed instrumentation, radio frequencies
pulled out of space, and cyber belches that create a deep paranoid
"On The Chin" sounds like the Tortoise of old - their
reflective, directionless contemplation is, however, accented
with more electronics. Throughout, melody plays tug of war to
create a tried and true display of tension. Sonically it's very
ambitious and it's also very precise. But occasionally I wonder
what the purpose of all this precision, direction and detail is,
sometimes less would be more.
That said, Tortoise pull in a lot of different ideas and still
sound comfortable and detached. Light electronica ala Morr Music,
Aphex Twin/Lee Perry freakery, Can/Neu! scales, 21st century futurism,
moodiness and optimism all play a part in sculpting the multiple
dimensions of this album. [GA]