Postrock instrumentalists Tortoise reemerge from their shells for Pitchfork’s Midwinter festival and afterparty | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Postrock instrumentalists Tortoise reemerge from their shells for Pitchfork’s Midwinter festival and afterparty 

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click to enlarge Tortoise

Tortoise

Andrew Paynter

There may be no better musical representation of the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts than instrumental postrock group Tortoise. Nearly 30 years after its inception, the Chicago-born quintet continue to synergize the disparate influences of its members, combining groove-filled, indie-leaning Krautrock with electronic flourishes, jazz sensibilities, global influences, and minimalist beauty. Though a few members still reside in Chicago, the rest are now spread throughout the country, making it even more rare for the band to record or perform—and this is a group that took seven years to complete its most recent album, 2016’s The Catastrophist (Thrill Jockey). Thankfully, Chicagoans have two chances to see these hometown icons in the near future: first on Saturday, February 16, at Pitchfork’s Midwinter festival (which has a stacked lineup as eclectic as Tortoise) and then on Sunday, February 17, at the Empty Bottle for a Midwinter afterparty. The festival gig, which takes place in the Art Institute’s Rubloff Auditorium, is also a special 21st-anniversary performance of the band’s acclaimed 1998 album, TNT , its first to feature virtuosic guitarist Jeff Parker. It’s always a profound experience to witness how these musicians switch among multiple instruments (almost everybody plays percussion at some point) and fuse their assorted styles in concert, and though Tortoise gigs are becoming fewer and farther between, this week’s sets should be no less engaging   v

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