Friday, September 10, 2010

Consider the Tortoise

After a long dry spell, there were finally a couple of shows I wanted to see last week in Northampton. I already blogged a couple of times about Rangda. Here's my Tortoise write-up, which ran yesterday at Blurt.

Tortoise -- the five-person, instrument-switching, jazz-rock-fusion band out of Chicago that single-handedly launched post-rock -- has just kicked "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In" up a notch. Two drummers, Dan Bitney and John Herndon face off on kits set back to back, playing syncopated rhythms that move in and out of phase with each other, now an identical beat doubled, now two intersecting cadences that fill in each other's spaces and dot each other's "I"s. John McEntire is up on the multiple-tiered keyboard synth set, while Doug McCombs settles into a groove in the back. For now, guitar-bass-keyboard player Jeff Lewis is picking out a melody on a keyboard in the back, but don't get too comfortable. When the song's over, everyone will change places. It would be remarkable if the band's five members were this good on one instrument. Instead, they're adept at three or four.


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