TORTOISE

DESERT DAZE PHOENIX

TORTOISE

CHICANO BATMAN, JJUUJJUU

Wed, May 4, 2016

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Tickets at the Door

This event is 21 and over

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TORTOISE
TORTOISE
Simply put, Tortoise has spent nearly 25 years making music that defies description. While the Chicago-based instrumental quintet has nodded to dub, rock, jazz, electronica and minimalism throughout its revered and influential six-album discography, the resulting sounds have always been distinctly, even stubbornly, their own.

It's a fact that remains true on "The Catastrophist," Tortoise's first studio album in nearly seven years. And it's an album where moody, synth-swept jams like the opening title track cozy up next to hypnotic, bass-and-beat missives like "Shake Hands With Danger" and a downright strange cover of David Essex's 1973 radio smash sung by U.S. Maple's Todd Rittmann. Throughout, the songs transcend expectations as often as they delight the eardrums.

Tortoise, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire and Jeff Parker, has always thrived on sudden bursts of inspiration. And for "The Catastrophist," the spark came in 2010 when the group was commissioned by the City of Chicago to compose a suite of music rooted in its ties to the area's noted jazz and improvised music communities.

Tortoise then performed those five loose themes at a handful of concerts, and "when we finally got around to talking about a new record, the obvious solution to begin with was to take those pieces and see what else we could do with them," says McEntire, at whose Soma Studios the band recorded the new album. "It turned out that for them to work for Tortoise, they needed a bit more of a rethink in terms of structure. They're all pretty different in the sense that at first they were just heads and solos. Now, they're orchestrated and complex."

"All of the songs went through a pretty intensive process of restructuring," adds Parker. "We actually had quite a lot of material that we ended up giving up on. Oftentimes, we'll shelve ideas and come back to them years later."

The album's single "Gesceap" embodies the transformation of the original suite commissions, as it morphs from two gently intersecting synth lines into a pounding, frenzied full-band finish. "To a certain extent it's more of a reflection of how we actually sound when we play live," says McEntire of Tortoise's heavier side. "That hasn't always been captured as well on past albums."

Elsewhere, "Hot Coffee" resurrects an idea abandoned from the band's 2004 album "It's All Around You," gliding through only-on-aTortoise-album sections of funktastic bass lines, straight-up dance beats and Parker's fusion-flecked guitar bursts. "It's progressive experimental music with pop sensibilities," says Parker.

"Rock On," which McEntire says he and McCombs simultaneously had the idea to cover after having remembered hearing it on the radio all the time as kids, isn't the only vocal moment on "The Catastrophist." Also included is the bittersweet, honest-to-goodness soul ballad "Yonder Blue," sung by Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley. "We'd finished the track and decided it would be good to have vocals on it," recalls McEntire. "Robert Wyatt was our first choice, but he had just retired and politely said no. We were discussing asking Georgia to do something, but not that track in particular. Then we realized it would totally work."

Tortoise is planning an extensive world tour in support of "The Catastrophist." Admits McEntire, "figuring out how to reproduce these songs live will be a bit of a challenge. But I also feel like it might be time to dip into the back catalog a bit. The pool we draw from has been really consistent for quite awhile.

As ever, Tortoise has conjured sounds on "The Catastrophist" that aren't being purveyed anywhere else in music today. There's a deeply intuitive interplay between the group members that comes only from two decades of experimentation, revision and improvisation. And at a time when our brains are constantly bombarded by myriad distractions, "The Catastrophist" reminds us that there's something much greater out there. All we have to do is listen.
CHICANO BATMAN
CHICANO BATMAN
Chicano Batman (Los Angeles, CA) is your sonic outlet from monotony back into the soul. Ethnomusicologists in their own right, they are students of rhythm, globe trotting on a quest to reclaim and represent the musical roots of their past generations.

The band's sound draws from a broad spectrum of influences ranging from 60s Tropicalia, samba, spacey psychedelia, to slow-jam soul with a pinch of surf-rock cumbia. In homage to their favorite Latin American soul groups of the 70s, the quartet uniforms their act in retro ruffled-tuxedo shirts from a thrift store near you.

Chicano Batman is more than a musical entity but an adventurous and opinionated group, who feeds off of community, afro-centricity and bolillos, on a mission to bring the overlooked to the forefront.

"Like Thee Midniters, Os Mutantes, and Love. Chicano Batman can take from any kind of music and make it completely and soulfully their own. If there's a better superpower for a band to have, I can't think of it." – LA Weekly

"Alternating between psychedelic rancheros, turbo-charged cumbias and Blaxploitation-meets–Sir Douglas Quintet soul fusions, a Chicano Batman show has more changes than James Brown had sequined capes." – Wax Poetics

"Chicano Batman is the sound of local Latino music in the 21st century." – KCET

"...the band took the Voodoo Fest crowd on a magical mystery tour of wah-wah funk, Latin percussion and squeedly, spacey effects-laden organ that felt like a pleasure cruise to the outer limits." – The Times Picayune
JJUUJJUU
JJUUJJUU is an astral union, an arcane ritual, and above all, a conversation. Harnessing an unspoken energy, the duo have exponentially blossomed from a sonic experiment to a forceful, telepathic dialogue of distinct-but-aligned vibrations. Releasing this dynamic on an expanding spiral of planned and impromptu live shows in the American southwest, the magnetism of the duo only continues to grow, along with its devoted, traveling coterie of entranced acolytes.
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