By Ben Pearson
Six years following their last official full-length release Beacons of Ancestorship, Tortoise return with another diverse addition to the growing world of post-rock with The Catastrophist. The creation of the album was directly inspired by a commission from the city of Chicago the band received in 2010 to create music “rooted to its ties to the area’s noted jazz and improvised music communities.” After a period of some live experimentation the group solidified these themes into 11 arrangements for the album.
With the exception of the tracks “Yonder Blue” featuring Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley and “Rock On” featuring Dead Rider’s Todd Rittmann, the album is predominantly instrumental with compositions showcasing their diversity of influences. With a sound taking its roots in both the worlds of rock and electronic music, The Catastrophist takes listeners on a unique and introspective journey through themes and styles borrowing from surf rock, avant-garde, electro groove and atmospheric. This diversity in sound is accomplished through the use of both traditional instruments (bass, guitar, drums, keys) and gear native to electronic music production (drum machines).
Tracks such as “The Catastrophist,” “Hot Coffee” and “At Odds with Logic” stand out in their immediate appeal and clarity. Overall the album is enjoyable and intriguing but lacks the kind of conceptual cohesion to command and maintain the listeners attention throughout its total play. Despite its inconsistencies this album still stands as a worthy contribution to the growing and expanding sounds of post-rock and is definitely worth the listen.The Catastrophist, Tortoise