A Lazarus Taxon
(Thrill Jockey)

The cloaking of A Lazarus Taxon in immaculate, arty, black-and-white photographs of car accidents seems antithetical to this boxed set's methodically crafted contents: 15 years' worth of hard-to-track-down Tortoise droppings confined to three discs and a single DVD. An indeed-geek drinking game could be built around the Chicago post-rockers' persistent penchant for gleaming their ponderous, studio-album cubes into incestuous infinity. "Gamera," for example, is a livelier rewrite of Tortoise's "His Second Story Island," and "Goriri," in turn, is a bass-line-gazing rework of "Gamera," and so on, but such undertakings are a distraction from the band's key legacy: the successful compounding of organic and synthetic sounds, jazz, rock, Krautrock, World Musics, and other genres into a studious-yet-free-flowing potpourri. Taxon's between-the-cracks roundup offers an expanded view into Tortoise's idiosyncratic, instrumental vortex, from the xylophone-spackled buckle of "Why We Fight" to the scattered-jacks electronics of "A Grape Dope" to video director Dave Ellsworth's evocative, rapid-fire footage parades in his clips for "Four Day Interval" and "Dear Grandma and Grandpa."
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