ALBUM THRILL JOCKEY, WARP RELEASE: FEBRUARY 19, 2001 REVIEW: FEBRUARY 27,
The problem with so much post rock is that it’s so much “post” and so little
“rock”. Post modern, post jazz, post song structures, post interesting. What
many of the bands in the (non-) genre don’t seem to realise is that you can
actually make a good racket and have big brains at the same time.
I honestly thought that Tortoise had come to some sort of turning point with
their new album “Standards”. And the first couple of minutes are no less than astonishing. A wall of rattling percussion and twanging
guitars, like riding into the sunset in a kraut western, builds up the
tension. So when the album kicks in for real, it is a huge anti-climax to
notice that they’re not really into making noise at all, but rather just
want to prove what skilled musicians they are.
The problem with this isn’t that Tortoise lack good ideas, but that they
don’t know how to hold on to them. They might think that their constantly
changing song structures make them jazzy, but they lack all the flaming
intensity of their idols, and often rather turn into some sort of
That said, there is enough fantastic passages
in this album to justify listening through it now and then.
But Tortoise desperately lack the edge of the punk scene they were brought
up with. They should sound like souls on fire, burning flags, or a SCUD
missile right into the White House.
If they managed to bring their
musicality together, they could be a great band,
“post” or not. Someone should tape them to a chair and make them listen to
The Stooges and KMFDM’s “Xtort” until they vow to record a punk album.