On the back of this CD there’s a little info on the processes used for this collaboration between the two bands. John McEntire (multi-instrumentalist/producer/engineer) is quoted as saying “All good things take time.” That proves a bit prophetic as this record seems not so much unfinished or recorded poorly, as it fails to display the purpose or thoughtfulness that exemplifies Tortoise’s music.
The idea behind this record series (In the Fishtank) is to throw a couple of bands into the studio together for a couple of days and see what happens. Putting a highly acclaimed American indie rock band with a propensity for 2 bass lineups, marimbas, melodicas, and ancient keyboards together with a lesser known, but influential Dutch avant-punk group seems, at the very least, an interesting idea at first. The chocolate in the peanut butter doesn’t prove to be such a hot medley though, since Tortoise gains most of their appeal precisely from not rocking out. The Ex make angular, skronky music, and Tortoise’s grooves just don’t mix with the stilted stream-of-consciousness lyric style that The Ex favors.
There’s guitar scrapes here, percussive flourishes there, and piddling synth noises in the background. It just never coalesces into anything coming close to the compelling music that both bands usually create on their own. Sure, the aforementioned formula sounds like the modus operandi of many a post-rock band around nowadays, but at some point all the noodles should come together to make pasta. But this album just ends up sounding like a Fugazi clone with a horn player and a strange sort of intensity that got lost in the translation.
Written by Pearson Greer.