Year of Release: 2016
For the past two decades, Chicago's Tortoise have shaped the often misunderstood genre "post-rock" into something wholly idiosyncratic. On their seventh studio album The Catastrophist, the band moves away from the heavier, prog-influenced sound of their last record Beacons of Ancestorship (2009) and into the realm of jazz, electro, and synth soundscapes. In many ways, The Catastrophist harkens back to classic Tortoise albums like TNT and Standards, with an emphasis on groove, keyboard melodies, and scattershot drumming patterns. Basically, if one digs what Tortoise have been up to since the early 90s, then this effort will no doubt satisfy, but the band does manage to throw a few curveballs in the form of "Rock On", a cover of David Essex's 1973 hit with Todd Rittmann on vocals, and "Younder Blue", an original tune featuring Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley in full-on 60s pop crooner mode. The inclusion of vocals here doesn't feel like a gimmick, but more a deepening of Tortoise's already unique sound.