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Tortoise - A Lazarus Taxon CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.45 | 10 ratings

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3 stars This handsome 3 CD plus DVD package gathers together assorted bonus tracks, b sides and one-offs from Tortoise's career to date. From the outset they have been open to the idea of remixing, and the majority of the three audio CDs consists of remodelled and reworked tracks from their first five albums.

A track by track review would be completely impractical, not to mention too tedious to wade through, but it's worth giving a quick overview. CDs one and two consist mainly of material from Millions Now Living... through to It's All Around You, starting with the remarkable Goriri, an 11 minute piece that morphs from fingerpicked acoustic guitar to a driving Neu! style piece of post rock Motorik and which is one of the best things they've ever released. It was a radical reworking of a track from their debut album and one of the last pieces to feature founder member Bundy K Brown. From here the chronology hops around madly but the tracks are sequenced beautifully - it's sometimes hard to believe that adjacent tracks were recorded almost a decade apart. The diverse influences are very much in evidence, with contributions to projects celebrating Joy Division and Duke Ellington and collaborations with the likes of Stereolab and Autechere cropping up along the way. Disc 3 is Rhythms, Resolutions and Clusters, a long since deleted series of remixes of their debut album reissued here complete with a track that, for technical reasons, was unable to be included on the original release. The DVD contains some videos shot for the most part in arty black and white, giving a highly effective visual counterpoint to the music, and there are also some (mostly) well recorded live performances.

As good as it is, A Lazarus Taxon is really one for the fans. It's not so much an introduction to Tortoise, or even an overview, as it is a glimpse behind the scenes; dub reggae, hip hop, electronica, new wave, krautrock and jazz all rear their heads at some point in the proceedings, giving an interesting insight into the influences that shaped Tortoise's music. If you're already a fan this box set is essential, otherwise start with Millions Now Living... or TNT.

Syzygy | 3/5 |


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