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CD Review: Tortoise's Beacons of Ancestorship 

The Deal: Instrumental band releases first studio effort of new material in five years.

The Good: The sixth album from Tortoise kicks off with a "go big or go home" effort in the form of the eight-minute song "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In." The song is full of stop-start synth that slowly builds into a drum-fueled frenzy before settling back down. It's a track you imagine would be a fun ride in person, but it's a little weighty to take in for the start of the album. "Prepare Your Coffin" goes a little more into a spacy realm with its Zappa-esque guitar work. The funky styling of "Northern Something" sounds much like a didgeridoo. The dual-drummer attack is full-on throughout the album, as you'd expect from any Tortoise song, driving each song while the other instruments playfully complement the rhythm. "Yinxianghechengqi" is heavy on the bass and sounds like an old-school Black Flag song – I was waiting for Henry Rollins to start singing. They also slow things down for something more jazzy and Bond-theme-esque with "The Fall of Seven Diamonds Plus One."

The Bad: The album clearly shows the range of the band to traverse genres, sounds, rhythms and just about everything under the sun. The bad thing is that it makes it hard to figure out the band's identity.

The Verdict: An enjoyable album that is best listened to in bits and pieces to avoid schizophrenia.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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