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  • Thrill Jockey

If abstract art had a musical equivalent, it might sound something like this immensely talented instrumental quintet from Chicago.

Throughout the 1990s, Tortoise turned their wildly eclectic blend of jazz, pop, electronica and dance upside down, and this disc extends their tradition of building free-floating soundscapes from a myriad of instruments and effects.

It is a captivating combination though, starting with the tub thumping grunge echoes of “Seneca,” which opens the disc, on through the hallucinatory Far Eastern flavors that twist into the house beats and deep bottom end of “Eros,” or the Zappa-meets-spaghetti-western vibe that carries through “Blackjack.” While nearly every musical moment is unexpected, Tortoise still turn in some supremely soothing moments as well, like the soulful groove that simmers during “Monica.”

“Standards,” with its innovative and alluring arrangements, proves to be anything other than standard fare.

Kevin O'Hare

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