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On Tortoise’s recent TNT, Chicago’s highest-profile progressive instrumental ensemble gives us a thicker Wicker Park sound. Tortoise’s elements are layered more melodically than on the fundamentalist Millions Now Living Will Never Die—dub, jazz, and Philip Glass are persistent influences in this exploration. On TNT, our boys boldly cross boundaries that they’ve only scouted before, armed with an array of big ideas. On its previous, sparse records, some of Tortoise’s appeal was in its ability to create dramatic changes with the introduction of each instrument. While filling in the uncharted spaces on TNT has given away a bit of the mystery, Tortoise has now arrived at its intended destination. The likewise avant-garde Oval opens tonight’s show. Using a “prepared disc” technique (sampling scarred CDs) and self-designed software, Berlin-based Oval has created a highly original and often mesmerizing sound on Dok—Markus Popp’s collaboration with Tokyo-based installation artist-sound designer Christophe Charles. Dok is a dry, often sinister, piquant album built from Charles’ worldwide field recordings of bells. Oval’s artistry comments on contemporary technology, simply demonstrating how a human touch warms the digital world. Though some of its work resembles environmental recordings from the murmuring city of the distant future and its material has been conceived for multimedia installations such as 1993’s Wohnton (Home tone), each Oval track has distinct personality, more than one might expect. At 8:45 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $12. (202) 393-0930. (John Dugan)