With seven years between albums, it seemed as if Tortoise had packed it in. Nothing could be further from the truth, and their new full-length, The Catastrophist, ranks among the post-rock collective’s best, as it segues from synth-rock to ambient pop. The record, their seventh, grew out of a 2010 commission to commemorate Chicago’s jazz and improvised music scenes. At times, they’re Suicide covering Jean-Jacques Perrey & Gershon Kingsley. At others, they’re a robot marching band on Mars. Though the album is mostly instrumental, the human voice expands the frame via complementary vocals from Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley on the pastel-hued “Yonder Blue” and U.S. Maple’s Todd Rittman on an elegantly zonked-out cover of David Essex’s “Rock On.” Life Coach (led by Trans Am’s Phil Manley) completes this perfectly aligned bill. KATHY FENNESSY
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