Warp – 2001 – 44 minutes
Imagine a band doing sums in a recording studio and you're getting close to the chin-stroking genius of Chicago instrumentalists Tortoise. Having run rings around their audience with the complexity of their 1998 album 'TNT', the follow-up (as the title suggests) finds them trimmed down to 44 minutes and firmly focused on the tunes. A party album for people who never leave their rooms, it crosses styles but never hangs around one idea for too long - 'Seneca' kicking off like the national anthem of Tortoiseland before a relentless beat and the hum of electronics take centrestage.
Elsewhere 'Eros's do-re-mi chimes pave the way for an almost robotic funk workout, 'Monica' fuses sleek soul to (what sounds like) an apprentice drummer and the poppy urgency of 'Blackjack' breezes in like an express delivery from the 1960s. Tortoise always gave their fans something to think about, but with these hyped-up arrangements they've got reason to smile too. Still the smartest boys in any class.
Tracklisting: Seneca – Eros - Benway - Firefly - Six Pack - Eden 2 - Monica - Blackjack - Eden 1 – Speakeasy