Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship Remixes 12″

Tortoise - Beacon of Ancestorship Remixes 12"

Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship Remixes 12"

Unlike its two tightly-scripted full-length predecessors (2001’s still somewhat impenetrable Standards and 2004’s meticulously-arranged It’s All Around You) this year’s new Tortoise long-player – the steadily-advancing Beacons of Ancestorship – appears ripe for some of the choice remix treatments so prevalent in the band’s earlier years.  With its more open-ended rhythmic beds and more stretchable melodies, Beacons seems like an easy win for an adroit remixer.  However, it turns out to have been a tougher than expected task for the two tracks chosen for remanipulation across the two sides of this soon-to-be-rare 12” platter.

As the multi-segmented opener to Beacons, “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In” perhaps wasn’t the smartest selection for Yamantaka Eye – from Japanese noise-rock collective Boredoms – to retwiddle the knobs for.  Already somewhat of a broiling stew of drums and synths that pushes mastering levels well into Loudness Wars extremes, this highly-compressed reheating could well make your stylus lurch violently between grooves.  With cranked-high live-sounding drums, farted-up bass, digital scree and added stuttering vocal samples, Eye stirs things into such a free-jam mess that he easily wins the prize for the most disorientating Tortoise remix to date.  Whether it will stand-up to repeat inspections is still hard to say, even after a dozen headache-inducing spins for review purposes.

“Gigantes,” on the flipside, is a far more logical choice for revisitation.  With its wondrous widescreen cinematic shimmering and joyous meshes of afrobeat percussion, the composition has already shown itself to be highly-flexible affair that can be pulled in new directions, as shown on the recent stunning rooftop live session for Pitchfork TV.  Consequently, Mark Ernestus (of Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound) has produced better results than Eye, with his fresh take on “Gigantes.”  Stripping away a lot of the original’s density, Ernestus initially draws heavier emphasis on the acoustic string elements buried inside, before switching attention to the non-programmed drums that skitter along in the best Tortoise wares.  Amusingly, in this newer incarnation, the previously suggested similarities with Orbital’s “The Box, Part 2” are even more uncanny and publisher-troubling.  Ernestus only lets himself down by the somewhat pointless subterranean drones that pan pointless between speakers periodically and with the nagging feeling that he could have stretched “Gigantes” even further beyond its surprisingly too short 6+ minutes duration, to reach a more rapture-releasing conclusion.  Nevertheless, it’s good to find a remix that actually leaves you wanting more.

Taken as whole, this flawed-yet-intriguing remix slate is perhaps really only for die-hard fans poised with credit cards to snaffle-up the ludicrously-limited 1,500 copy pressing before the less devout even get a whiff of it.  However, those looking to unearth sharper Tortoise reconstructions – from both internal and external hands – might be more satisfyingly served by recipe-tweaked dishes within 2004’s A Lazarus Taxon rarities box or – if you can find it – 1996’s horribly-rare Remixed compilation.

Thrill Jockey Records