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Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.73 | 98 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The name of this modest but challenging Chicago ensemble first crossed my radar while I was surfing the Krautrock pages (now re-edited) here at Prog Archives, where they were name-checked alongside the retro-kraut indie band Stereolab. That was enough to pique my interest, especially after learning that the 1997 Stereolab album "Dots and Loops" was in large part a collaboration between the two groups.

It's true that Tortoise shares a similar affection for pre-digital electronics and the occasional cool lounge vibe (imagine an early '70s German rock band playing music for a chic Italian movie from the 1960s). But elsewhere the all-instrumental music of Tortoise is harder to classify, seeming to exist in its own self- contained and calm little universe, where everybody likes to play bass guitar and tuned percussion.

Their second studio album, released in 1996 under an evocative title better suited to fellow post-rockers EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, may be the band's most overtly Krautrock-influenced effort to date. The epic opening track "Djed" (named after an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic representing stability) in particular recalls the classic grooves of Mobius and Roedelius (aka CLUSTER), or NEU! in their quieter moments. And with a running time close to 21-minutes it's certainly the most ambitious composition (in a very subdued sort of way) ever attempted by the band.

But the sheer length of this one piece unbalances the entire album, by overshadowing the five shorter tracks rounding out the disc. Each is excellent in its own way, and together establish what might be a new form of ambient rock: not quite what anyone would call minimalist, but close. This is music that can be just as pleasant to ignore as it is to hear, but closer attention will reward patient listeners willing to stretch their concentration a little.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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