Thrill Jockey | Item No: 466279
Vinyl LP | 2000 / US – Reissue | New
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Musically, Standards is their most concise statement of purpose thus far. The tunes are direct and immediate, yet they maintain the exploratory edge that has always characterized the group's output. The fusion of instrumental sounds (electric, acoustic, and synthesized) is subtle and subversive. Similarly, the group's fluency within the studio environment gives the finished work a quality that alternates between artifice and reality. Whilst TNT was constructed in the studio using segments recorded, improvised or altered electronically, the "Standards" sessions began after a period of rehearsal and composition. The contrast, simply stated, is that the studio was used extensively as a compositional tool for TNT, whereas with Standards it was used predominantly as tool to realize and enhance the existing new compositions. The studio does not impose itself on the recording to the same degree we witnessed on TNT, and the resulting record is in many ways reminiscent of their unadorned self-titled debut. Sounds, notes and rhythms are manipulated (such as the drums on "Seneca") but in general, processing is spare (with the exception of first half of "Benway," which is entirely synthesized). From the dramatic opening of "Seneca" to the soaring melodies of "Blackjack"; from the swing of "Benway" to the motion of "Six Pack", Standards is anything but standard. Tortoise's highly lyrical melodies, rich and varied tonal palette and high level of musicianship were recorded in a studio designed by McEntire. The resulting record is the clearest demonstration of the band's many skills and strengths.