Sold during shows on their 1998 tour, "Madison Ave."/"Madison Area" is a white-label 45 offering two versions of a non-album Tortoise track. Quicker in pace and loaded with simple, winsome melodies, "Madison" has a lighthearted spirit unlike anything on its excellent predecessor T.N.T. Many Tortoise tracks follow similar structural principles, involving less in the way of contrasting sections than in instrumental texture (the group's six members play nearly 20 instruments). Yet while the narrative of some tracks slowly unfold before you, "Madison" simply plays out its repetitions. Over a tricky, stuttering rhythm, elementary keyboard lines are laid. Jeff Parker spins off uncharacteristically carefree slide guitar lines. The second time around ("Area" or "Ave.," take your pick), the beat is clipped and toughened, Parker's guitar is reduced to a watery substance, and the keyboards sound like primitive technology. It's akin to their post-rock version of dub deconstruction. Played back to back, the sides sound like two sections of an extended track. Save for remix 12"s by Autechre and Derrick Carter, this would be the only new Tortoise material in the extended gap between their third and fourth albums (when members focused on extracurricular projects). Though a rare object, "Madison Ave."/"Madison Area" is a great diversion.
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AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush