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Ep. #240: A Way That’s Clear – Tortoise & The Making of ‘The Catastrophist’

Over the past 20 years, Tortoise has honed a distinctive sound, spurred on by strange, synthetic tones, stunning guitar interplay, and an utterly unique and highly influential approach to playing and recording drums. Citizens of Chicago, they’ve absorbed that town’s rich history of noise and musical innovation, touching upon every genre in their abstract work, while always somehow sounding exactly like Tortoise.

For fans of the band, which is comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire, and Jeff Parker, every new Tortoise record feels like some exciting departure. But there are things, both obvious and subtle, about The Catastrophist, their seventh full-length album released by Thrill Jockey Records, that will genuinely startle listeners who appreciate the storied quintet’s daring.

Here, McCombs and McEntire along with album collaborators, Todd Ritmann, and Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley discuss the history, making of, and future of The Catastrophist.


Related playlist: “The Catastrophist” Tortoise | “Ox Duke” Tortoise | Music from the Score of Lovely Molly by Tortoise | “Wonder” Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble | “Thunder Road” Tortoise & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy | “Hope For Happiness” Soft Machine | “Rock On” David Essex | “Rock On” Tortoise | “Yonder Blue” Tortoise | “Hello Stranger” Brenda Lee | “Tesserect” Tortoise | “At Odds with Logic” Tortoise | “Gopher Island” Tortoise | “Shake Hands with Danger” Tortoise

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