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Avant-jazz playing techno dress-up is nothing new. Chicago rock-deconstructionists Tortoise offer a take on academic analogtronica that borrows from the likes of Squarepusher and new-jack gear-bashers Holy Fuck and Battles, with an result that’s emphatically lukewarm. It feels odd to call anything as busy as Beacons of Ancestorship “middling”—typically such a distinctive sonic construction merits either worship or ridicule. Sometimes the record lifts off, but mostly it just hovers in the vapor, never landing long enough to deliver a memorable moment. GIVE///MORE>>?
The titular flagship of What Did You Say is sort of like a single-speed track bicycle. It has few moving parts, no complicated gear shifting or particularly clever gimmicks, but it’s more than sustained by its speed, purity and momentum. Bodycode’s Alan Abrahams leads the track right off with the uncomfortably forward-mixed spoken word “How can you say you’d live without me?” question/mantra. Vocalist Lerato sounds like she’s right there in the room with us and she’s super pissed off. Little hats fire around her like tiny leaks springing out of a highly pressurized fire hose. The bassline shivers under her like a taut rubber band about to snap off in our faces…it’s a balancing act of restraint and weirdness. “Our minds and bodies…are one…” she repeats, and thank god she’s not my girlfriend. >>READ MORE, YOU ARE IN MY THRALL.