Chicago underground rock outfits Tortoise and the Sea & Cake should both have new releases out on Thrill Jockey by fall, drummer John McEntire tells Billboard.com. “We started some recording in December, and we’ll pick up and finish in June,” he says of the Tortoise sessions, which will likely yield an EP as opposed to the proper follow-up to 2001’s “Standards.” Nothing has been completely finished, but “one song is really close. There are five or six ideas we have right now but those might get used in any number of ways.”
As for the Sea & Cake, McEntire says that after five weeks of recording, the band’s sixth studio album “should be finished by the end of the month unless some disaster strikes.” The set has not yet been titled but is due in early or mid-October. It’s the follow-up to 2000’s “Oui,” which debuted at No. 24 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. A North American tour will coincide with the album’s release.
“In some ways, it’s maybe a little more like [1997’s electronic-heavy] ‘The Fawn,'” McEntire reports of the sound of the upcoming album, which will likely feature 10 or 11 tracks. “I think of the last record as a live band recording. This one is a bit more constructed, and the palette is a bit broader.” One major change will be song length. “In doing a self examination, we realized a lot of our older stuff was too extended,” McEntire admits. “We were aghast at how long and drawn out some of it is. A lot of the new tracks are about three minutes long.”
Always in demand as a producer, engineer, and remixer based out of his state-of-the-art Soma Studio in Chicago, McEntire recently produced albums for Thrill Jockey labelmates Radian and a Norwegian band named Salvatore. He may handle a remix for politically minded hip-hop act the Coup and is planning to resume work on a long-in-progress solo album. “That’s something I’m hoping to take up a little more seriously later this year,” he says.
McEntire was in New York to participate in two collaborative performance last night (May 15) with drummer Ikue Mori and harpist Zeena Parkins as part of Symphony Space’s Adventure series. The trio only had a few hours to work on potential ideas and wound up largely improvising 75-minute sets of highly abstract, often structure-less electronica workouts powered by computers, synthesizers, and other high-tech gadgets.
The series continues tonight with Chicago jazz/electronica outfit Isotope 217 and hip-hop act Cannibal Ox; Chicago saxophonist Fred Anderson, guitarist Marc Ribot, and jazz drummer Chad Taylor will perform tomorrow.