Beacons of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey), out in June, is the first new record in five years from the Chicago band Tortoise, an influential quintet with no singer and a reputation for experimental rock. The band has hardly been slacking since the release of 2004’s It’s All Around You. In between, it has released a three-CD compilation, recorded a collection of covers with the cult hero Will Oldham, and performed at many large music festivals. The music on the new record retains the band’s shape-shifting mix of exotic rhythms, riffs, and textures, but marks a definite shift in Tortoise’s sound. “There’s a lot of energy,” says Dan Bitney, a multi-instrumentalist. “Our first record was kind of dark, but on this one it’s a rock band.”

GO: Tortoise plays the PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL on July 17th. For more information, visit


photograph: Saverio Truglia