Tortoise - The Catastrophist - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tortoise - The Catastrophist

by Brian Lange. Rating:7 Release Date:2016-01-22

For eight years, I lived in Chicago. On Damen Avenue, just south of Division Street, was the two-story flat that I lived in. It was a great spot, but was quickly getting gentrified with douchey sports bars and overpriced sushi restaurants. But just a few doors down from my flat was a non-descript corner building with boarded up windows that were painted a flat color. 

It was rare to see anyone coming in or out of this building, but once in a while I would see guys loading or unloading a van, giving them a “Hello” with a smile and nod of recognition. Little did most people know, it was this very building where Tortoise rehearsed and recorded most of their music. 

Like a lot of musicians of non-selling-out-arena status, for the most part, they are able to assimilate into society generally unnoticed and even if they were, they could do so without being accosted.  After all, musicians are people too!  (well, only some of them are)

Five years since their previous work, The Catastrophist is a fine example of experimental indie post-rock.  Known for being an instrumental band, this record actually features two tracks with guest vocals on it.  You may be surprised to find a cover of David Essex's "Rock On" with lyrics by Todd Rittmann (of U.S. Maple and Dead Ryder fame, both Chicago bands) and Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley contributes to the soul ballad "Yonder Blue."

The albums’ first single, “Gesceap” is an analog friendly Atari game sort of sounding track that lasts a full eight minutes.  Though it can come across as a bit nauseating, they do not fail to build up the track to a subdued sort of climax.  If anything, it is a good indication and representation of what to expect from this record.  Unlike others of their ilk such as Explosions in the Sky or Do Make Say Think, Tortoise seems to keep their sounds on a plateau.  You won’t experience raw waves of emotion and extreme shifts.  This record has a certain calming effect that’ll keep your heart rate steady instead of flying to opposite ends of the spectrum.  

Tread digital waves in this 8-bit Atari world of random occurrences. 

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I love this but I have to skip the David Essex cover.

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