Perhaps in the end of year review of the music scene 2005 will be looked upon as the year that the collaboration became cool again. With acclaimed splits between Mono and Pelican and Boris and Merzbow among others bands are finally returning to that glowering plateau presided over by Aerosmith and Run DMC.
Joining them now are Tortoise and Bonnie Prince Billy, two artists whose only previous common ground was that of great underground acclaim as leftfield visionaries. But somehow Tortoise have managed to merge their technical math-rock stylings with Bonnie's folk-rock sincerities and create a true work of genius.
For what is essentially a covers album, there is a breathtaking amount of versatility. Tortoise's virtuoso playing makes epics out of tracks like 'Pancho' and absolute masterpieces of standards such as 'Cravo é Canala' and 'Thunder Road'.
To use an extremely cliched but quite apt term, the overall sound is the Kill Bill soundtrack on acid. The aforementioned 'Thunder Road' is possibly the highlight, but that's not to say it puts the rest of the album in the shade.
At times they near the hybrid jazz of The Mars Volta or even the plentiful jam bands that can be found on the boulevards of certain Eastern European shores, but Tortoise's effortless ingenuity and Prince Billy's sensuous and aged voice raise it to a much higher plane.
It's not an album for working to, and for the most part it's not an album for making love to. I can recommend certain drugs that might enhance its quality but even on its own it's the perfect album for simply and solely listening to. There is hope yet.
9Jordan Dowling's Score