Veteran post-rock act Tortoise will return June 23rd with their first new studio album in five years. Entitled "Beacons of Ancestorship," the eleven song Thrill Jockey set was recorded primarily from Summer of 2008 through early 2009 at drummer John McEntire's Soma Studios in Chicago, with many ideas gestating over the last several years.
"We started to play a few of the songs live," bassist Doug McCombs tells Billboard.com. "That's when we really started to feel like we were getting somewhere. But you can't really discount the previous two or three years, because some of the material existed. And it needed to go through those phases or it wouldn't have arrived at what we arrive at. For whatever reasons, things didn't really gel until last summer."
"Beacons" marks the longest the group has gone between proper studio records. In 2006, they released a 3 disc rarities set entitled "A Lazarus Taxon" and a covers collaboration with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy called "The Brave and the Bold." "I feel like for Tortoise, the longer we exist as a band, it may just be that its going to take us longer and longer to make albums," McCombs explains. "I may be proven wrong about that, but I feel like it takes a bit more work each time to try and get to some place that we haven't been before."
Indeed, "Beacons of Ancestorship" finds the group in tune with many more synth driven compositions and relying less on the percussion, rhythmic elements of the past. "There's a lot of idea fusing: a lot of the guys were reluctant to pull out the mallet instruments this time. That's not a compositional thing, but it's a theme throughout the album. The mallets introduced this other rhythmic element to the band. If you put synthesizers in that same sonic space, it defuses the rhythmic element of it and makes it a little glossier."
Tortoise is slated for a short New York run in late May, with stops in Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Manhattan and will play a handful of festivals this summer, including participating in the Pitchfork Music Festival's "Write the Night," where fans will generate the evening's set list. Leading up to the release of "Beacon," McCombs says the group hopes to get back into the studio and record for a series of exclusive singles.
Here is the track list for "Beacons of Ancestorship":
"High Class Slim Came Floatin' In"
"Prepare Your Coffin"
"The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One"
"Monument Six One Thousand"