Talking Blues

More thoughts about Tortoise, Savath & Savalas, and the Windy City

"I've read some shit where, like, they were saying some shit like, 'Oh, so this is what he's doing now? He quit doing Prefuse to do this?'" says Herren. "Why can't people do multiple things?" He even takes exception to the way some promoters have trumpeted dates on Savath & Savalas's current tour -- where a full band joins Herren and Muns -- with the note "featuring Prefuse 73." "It's just stupid. It's a totally different thing. I'm not trying to profit off that name with this," he complains. "I don't want kids to go to Savath & Savalas thinking it's [going to be] Prefuse."

The sonorous, occasionally challenging Apropa't, on which Muns (with Herren on background harmony vocals) sings in Catalan, is maddeningly abstract in some parts, and much of it is beatless, floating in space. The group's ballads, meanwhile, reflect a mishmash of influences, from Spanish guitarist Paco Ibañez to Brazilian artist Milton Nascimento. Like Brazilian folk star Caetano Veloso's work, it is lovely and subdued, a low hum that, if not heard under optimal conditions, seems to fade into the noise and static of everyday living.

Ironically, Tortoise's It's All Around You is also receiving mixed reviews, though the response to it hasn't been as polarized (backlash?) as those for Apropa't. It seems as if being a critic's darling can be a hazardous profession.

Tortoise, Ex-Models, and Beans perform at 9:00 p.m. Friday, April 30, at the Polish American Club, 1250 NW 22nd Ave. Tickets cost $16. Call 305-635-2240. Savath & Savalas performs with Juana Molina and Nobody during the Transatlantic Festival at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, at I/O, 30 NE 14th St. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-672-5202.

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