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Post-Rock Icons, Tortoise Return to Buffalo

Not many bands can say they invented their own genre. Tortoise can. Post-rock didn’t exist before 1994, the year that Tortoise released their first, self titled album. What they’ve created since then are songs, using traditional rock instruments, that transcend rock music. Their guitar strings expel textures and atmospheres rather than hooks and riffs. Their percussion acts as an anchor, but it’s usually impossible to tell just how many hands are actually crashing on each noise-producing drum head as all of the members are multi-instrumentalists. When they perform live there are two dueling drum kits set up facing each other, as percussionist John McEntire, also of The Sea and Cake, sits adjacent to musicians John Herndon and Dan Bitney while they intermittently switch between guitar and drums. Between their massive ambient dream-scape tracks and their driving, jazz based epics the band has a catalog of music as emotionally variant as any classical music composer of the last century and are just as influential. Their latest album, Beacons of Ancestorship is a bit more worldly sounding than their previous five albums, but it still moves at an unrelenting pace. Last time Tortoise came to town they played the Tralf, (and the performance was recorded in it’s entirety for Artvoice TV) but this time it will be a much more personal experience when the band takes the stage of Soundlab on Thursday (Sept 2).

Tortoise live at the Tralf: Artvoice TV

cory perla

Photos by Ben Gardner