The Sentinel

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Tag Archives: Tortoise

Tortoise – Ry Cooder

It’s a warm, summer evening over here in London, and this track from the Chicago Post-Rock outfit’s self titled, debut album from 1994 fits it very nicely. Wonder what Ry Cooder thinks about this one?

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Tortoise – Swung From The Gutters

Perfect two decades ago, and still perfect today. This lovely track from the somewhat overrated ‘TNT’ (1998) album, is a loose, languid number that really pulls on the heartstrings. A real album highlight for sure.

Tortoise – Magnet Pulls Through

Minimal, restrained, and (unfortunately for some) tasteful; this sums up Tortoise doing what they do best. Sure they’ve gone into some sparkly funky areas before (‘Eros’ and ‘Monica’ from 2001’s ‘Standards’ album), but this is usually the type of material one holds onto as a fine example of what the US ‘Post Rock’ act are all about. Well, it’s this or the hellish Weather Report meets Ozric Tentacles shenanigans they are also known to inflict upon the listener. This is the opening track from their 1994 self-titled debut album.

Tortoise – Mosquito

This early Tortoise 7″ from 1993 has the wonderful addition of horns; something that a lot of their later material would have benefited from. Those bursts certainly liven this tune up.

Tortoise – Gamera

A track from the ‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die’ era; and it’s a track that should have ended up on the album which, apart from the mighty ‘Djed’, fails to hit the heights of their 1994 debut. Not quite as majestic as the aforementioned ‘Djed’, but ahead of the Jazz Funk meets Ozric Tentacles that makes up the rest of ‘Millions….’. Starts out with the band summoning the spirit of John Fahey, before the breaks and buzzing keyboard kicks in; great stuff.

Tortoise – Monica

Pimp my Tortoise! The infamously clean and rigid Post-Rock outfit loosen up with some soul and funk moves sprinkled with some Electronica-like breaks (those are real drums). Imagine Bernie Worrell jammin’ with Jimi Tenor whilst Bootsy Collins and Autechre look on. From the bands 2001 album ‘Standards’.

Tortoise – Goriri

Great Tortoise track here from their ‘Millions Now Living’ era. Spacious, dubby, jazzy music that sounds like it is being smeared at one point.

Tortoise – Spiderwebbed

Beautiful, twanging, spindly de-constructed ‘Rock’ from the US outfits 1994 self-titled debut album. Perfect.

Tortoise – Eros

Lively Post-Rock from Tortoise’s 4th album, 2001’s ‘Standards’. Jazz fusion meets Electronica; and even a touch of 2-step/Garage. The ingredients pile up (when the guitar comes in one even thinks of Johnny Marr), but never make for a messy dish. Lovely track.

Tortoise – Djed

Tortoise are a band who either nail it, as is the case with this track, or they miss the mark and sound like Weather Report meets Ozric Tentacles. The opening track on 1995’s ‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die’ is one of their finest moments. “Djed,” sounds like a modern take on Jazz Fusion; a take that has integrated Krautrock, Dub Reggae, as well as Electronica . “Djed” was a bold move, as it was the album opener and clocked in at a hefty 20 minutes. It was also a condensed rundown of the bands career up until that point; with all of their trademarks and stylings thrown into the pot and then teased and tweaked into new shapes. It truly is an astounding track that could easily secure a band’s reputation on its 20 minutes alone. The track opens with crunchy effects and a simple, plaintive bass riff that has a warm, dubby feel to it. This lasts for a few minutes before a motorik drum pattern kicks in. Hints of NEU! are apparent, giving truth to the Krautrock comparisons that were being thrown about, and the bass riff also has a similar lilt to Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother‘s iconic band. A perky melody joins proceedings, lifting the track above motorik pastische whilst also bringing the Jazz Fusion comparisons to mind. This structure starts to break down at some point and the track starts to throb, throwing warm and fuzzy dub shapes where previously there were crisp riffs. The piece morphs several more times whilst always giving the impression that it’s a natural flow. Icy glitches show up at one point; and at another it feels like the track is being smeared over the original tapes. Then the track enters into a beautiful section that is an outright homage to Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians replete with mallets, xylophones, and what have you. It closes with an almost crippled breakbeat, with remnants of the track’s riffs and melodies hovering over the brittle drums. It’s a fantastic ending to an astonishing track, and is the sort of piece that has you yearning to instantly listen to it all over again. Addictive.

Laurence Johns

Curator of Counter-Culture, Personal Development Consultant & Writer

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