June 04, 2001 12:00 PM

Tortoise (Thrill Jockey)

Just because you don’t know their name doesn’t mean you haven’t heard this Chicago quintet’s instrumental jazz-rock. Tortoise’s electronic harmony has backed up TV ads for Calvin Klein and Levi’s with a mix of electronic, acoustic and synthesized sounds that recalls jazz improvisation. But with its weird pulsing beats and spacey guitars, Tortoise sounds a bit like Charlie Parker meets Radiohead.

Standards is full of twists and turns that create a pleasing whirl of textures and moods. Take the opener, “Seneca,” which begins with a rocking take on our national anthem but morphs into syncopated percussion. Cacophony never sounded so melodic.

Bottom Line: Bursting out of its shell

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