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It's All Around You

Tortoise Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 July 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thrill Jockey
  • ASIN: B0001EMW06
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,598 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. It's All Around You
2. The Lithium Stiffs
3. Crest
4. Stretch (You Are All Right)
5. Dot/Eyes
6. On the Chin
7. By Dawn
8. Five Too Many
9. Salt the Skies

Product Description


It's All Around You, the fifth album by Chicago sound alchemists Tortoise, marks a return to the consciously beautiful expeditions through realms of jazz, dub and progressive rock last sailed on 1996's peerless Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Sure, as ever, this remains a band terribly concerned with the more nerdy extremes of studio experimentation and music theory. Time signatures drift with academic intent, silicon laptop whirrs meld inexorably with chiming vibraphone skitter and dubby live rhythms, and John McEntire's production is as fluid and ingenious as ever. But melody is the real key to understanding It's All Around You: it defines everything here, from "The Lithin Stiffs", a mermaid's lullaby of layered My Bloody Valentine styled vocal harmonies and thrumming, ocean-deep basslines to the driving "Salt the Skies", an energetic, live-sounding Faust-style Krautrock homage. With post-rock's star fading, Tortoise no longer sound quite the startlingly inventive force they once did. But It's All Around You is the sound of a band playing to their strengths, crafting scintillating sounds out of cerebral set-ups. Dust off those headphones and prepare to be surprised anew. --Louis Pattison

BBC Review

I must admit I've never really understood what all the fuss was about with Tortoise. While some aspects of the music press hailed them as fearless innovators, all I could manage to get out of them was a pale distillation of a lot of things I loved (minimalism, prog rock, jazz, dub, electronica), played with a fashionably postmodern lack of commitment. Some of their music was very lovely, but it was never the revelatory experience that their press might have prepared you for.

The same goes for this latest issue from Chicago's finest, but the lovely bits are, well...lovelier than before. While the previous Standards album was Tortoise's attempt to be a bit angry, It's All Around You returns to the usual blend of influences to produce an album that's by turns blissful and edgy. Our old friend the vibraphone is featured throughout, sprinkling little bursts of melody over the usual cocktail of skittery rhythms, spidery guitars and hazy electronics.

In a way the lush geographies of the cover are a clear statement of intent; here Tortoise pile up layers of shimmering melodies with a faint whiff of exotica. "The Lithium Stiffs" comes closes to space age bachelor pad heaven, with breathy female vocal harmonies laid over warped electronic bossa rhythms. It's the sort of thing you could imagine Air doing if they weren't so gutless. This shifts seamlessly into "The Crest", where a stately (almost John Barry-esque) melody unwinds over slo-mo prog-rockery that almost descends into bombast.

The rest of the record is maybe more typical but no less rewarding; it's (to my ear anyway) a more compositional and texturally rich brew than of old. Guitarist Jeff Parker finally gets a chance to turn his amp up to 11 on the closing "Salt the Skies", though judging by his recent solo album he's still a bit underused in this outfit.

If you're planning building a space age batchelor pad halfway up the Amazon, this'll be the perfect soundtrack for those long summer evenings. --Peter Marsh

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars reaching maturity 21 July 2004
Format:Audio CD
i am sure that many will be reluctunt to prize this album 5 stars, but after some thought and considering those awfully superficial reviews this great piece of music got from the mag professionals, i will not hesitate to do so.
those are almost 45 minutes of tortoise distilled genius. being a great jazz band in its core, here gives the best taste of the musical forms it has presented through the years, with cuting edge production.
the main complaint by the reviewers is that this time tortoise don't try to push any boundaries,however being jazz they are entitled not to do so through amazing experimentalism but through magnificent reworking of known patterns.
this disc encapsoulates the best produced and best played music of this year. the compositions are economically built and what you here is a potent band reching the most mature phase of their career.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as music gets 28 Dec 2005
By whistle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have been a Tortoise fan since the late 90s, but never as committed as I have been since Standards was released. I approached It's All Around You with caution because I anticipated disappointment. At first, I agreed with all of the reviews that I had read. The album seemed to merely exist as another Tortoise album with no movement forward.

While I must admit that this is not a giant leap from Standards in terms of a cohesive album, it is the better of the two albums, in my opinion. Namely because of the climax that this album reaches. Standards almost appears to front load the best ideas while It's All Around You saves the best for last.

The first track threw me off because it is easy to dismiss it as close to random instrumentation with a solid (slightly simple) bass track. But it is so much more. Upon a couple of repeated listens, that song, like the rest of the album, revealed much more structural ingenuity. The multiple instruments that take part in the melody bounce off of one another and it becomes difficult to tell when a guitar ends and a vibraphone picks up. But the instruments are not to be observed seperately. Listening to how they compliment each other and form a beautiful melodic series is devestatingly brilliant. I posit that the first song sounds unlike anything that Tortoise has done before.

The entire album is phenomenal, but I would like to highlight the last song. This is where I really believe this album shines the most. Never before have I heard a band capture increasing intensity in a drum performance so well on tape. The song builds and builds and the instrumentation perfectly compliments the drums throughout this climactic process.

I hear far too often that this album is more of the same. If the same means being a mind-blowingly awesome band time after time, I hope that they don't change a thing.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars familiar, mellower, tighter, but still killer 22 April 2004
By wordtron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
just saw these guys at ny's bowery ballroom and hearing them live it's easy to figure out what's different about these new songs compared to their older stuff. in many ways, everything pre-standards is still amazing, especially live, because of the strong song structures, which are very architectural and decontructivist, literally. you see, hear and feel how the songs are built layer upon layer, building and building to the inevitable crumble and stumble that comes back satisfyingly to the original motif. i think beginning with standards, the songwriting has become much, much tighter, so that you almost don't notice the amazing musicianship at times. but also, the design of the songs is less apparent, and so sometimes, in comparison to the older tortoise sound, the new songs feel a might boring, especially with the slow jams. but when you experience this stuff live, you realize nothing has changed and these new songs rock just as much as the old ones. (also, i think one of the reasons it may feel like they're stalling, musically, is that the instrumentation hasn't changed: two vibraphones, two drum kits, bass, synth/effects, jazz guitar; hopefully on the next album they'll mix up the sounds some.) the double drumming live is killer. they played for nearly two hours and seemed really into it, as was the crowd. the opening act beans from anti-pop consortium was amazing as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant effort 26 Nov 2004
By Brian Gallacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
As a previous reviewer said, this album is distinctly tortoise in sound. However, I don't think that this detracts from the album. I feel that this is tortoise at their best. This album showcases some of their most subtle, melodic and consistent work to date.

All the usual elements are here: the mesmerizing blend of instraments to the point where you don't know where one ends and the other begins, the screwball rhythms, the jazz inspired melodies and some great rock-out moments.

This album won't take any tortoise fan by surprise, theye are simply doing what they do best.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to with Headphones 7 April 2004
By Christopher Flanagan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This album is a culmination of all previous Tortoise works. Though not as outstanding as TnT, Standards or Millions, at first listen, over time it will be one of their best. It is a great work of art and better than anything you are likley to hear on the radio today or tomorrow. Listening to with headphones reveals the layers of sounds and with repeated listening there is always something new to uncover.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing. 18 Dec 2004
By Phinkus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This CD is just awesome. I love it. The first time I heard this, i was in awe, from the first track. I've probably listened to it over 30 times and it's still awesome. If you like this album, you'll like TNT and Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Tortoise is amazing.
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