LP, Limited Edition, Clear w Hi-Melt Red & White Vinyl
Thrill Jockey – THRILL 089 (2021) US
Standards, the fourth full-length recording from Chicago's Tortoise, boldly announces their return following 1998's TNT. Tortoise spent the bulk of 1998 and a portion of 1999 touring the world. Following tours of the U.S., Europe, South America, Japan, Brazil, and Australia, Tortoise members worked on other projects that occupied them until the spring of 2000 when they began to record Standards.
Musically, Standards is their most concise statement of purpose thus far. The tunes are direct and immediate, yet they maintain the exploratory edge that has always characterized the group's output. The fusion of instrumental sounds (electric, acoustic, and synthesized) is subtle and subversive. Similarly, the group's fluency within the studio environment gives the finished work a quality that alternates between artifice and reality. Whilst TNT was constructed in the studio using segments recorded, improvised or altered electronically, the "Standards" sessions began after a period of rehearsal and composition. The contrast, simply stated, is that the studio was used extensively as a compositional tool for TNT, whereas with Standards it was used predominantly as tool to realize and enhance the existing new compositions. The studio does not impose itself on the recording to the same degree we witnessed on TNT, and the resulting record is in many ways reminiscent of their unadorned self-titled debut. Tortoise's highly lyrical melodies, rich and varied tonal palette and high level of musicianship were recorded in a studio designed by McEntire. The resulting record is the clearest demonstration of the band's many skills and strengths.