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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 Folk Researcher
3 stars I really have no idea what to make of this album. This was one of the first and only albums I picked up because of the name alone, kind of like RPWL’s ‘God Has Failed’ (and it should be noted that RPWL didn’t make a particularly strong case for their argument). I still don’t know exactly what this album’s title means except to say that it’s probably a religious reference of some sort as well. Or maybe not.

Considering this came out around the same time as GY!BE’s ‘F# A# ∞” and is also considered post-rock I sort of expected something in a similar vein. Not that Godspeed necessarily set the bar for what a post-rock band should be, although it’s as good a starting point as any. But these guys are not at all like that, and I’m not even sure they strictly fit the post-rock definition. There’s a fair amount of jazz leaning in these tracks, and also an awful lot of electronica in the form of sequenced loops, synthesizers and other unidentifiable but definitely digital sounds. Even the harpsichord is electric.

And there are no slowly building arrangements that erupt in an explosion like Godspeed and their ilk, or relentless guitar drone like Explosions in the Sky or feedback excess like Bark Psychosis or Flying Saucer Attack. No inebriated endless noodling like Set Fire to Flames, and no deranged strings like Mogwai. Instead the band comes off as some sort of Krautrock-inspired electronica project that sounds more like something out of the mid eighties than a late nineties band. The closest comparison I can think of in this genre is Sigur Rós, and particularly because both bands are pretty laid-back and both project an overwhelming feeling of water and gentle waves. Not sure why.

Don’t get me wrong, the musicianship is superb, and each of the quintet is an accomplished virtuoso on the many instruments each of them plays. But there doesn’t seem to be much point to most of these tracks, even the twenty-minute plus “Djed” that actually sounds like four or five songs strung together by a bass line and not much else. This track takes up half the album and the rest of the tunes pale by comparison in both breadth and variety. The guitar bits on “Along the Banks of the River” remind me of an eighties Don Henley album, and while “The Taut and Tame” starts off with promising energy it quickly turns into a fusion-like sampler that leaves me bored rather quickly.

The one song that is a bit intriguing is the brief, dark “Dear Grandma and Grandpa” with its spooky percussion and watery mood that makes for an attention-grabbing interlude between the two aforementioned tracks. But a three minute composition isn’t enough to push this album to a high mark, and in the end I’m left feeling a bit disappointed and inexplicably depressed to boot.

Tortoise have their fans, and I’m sure this was a pivotal album for some of them. But for me this is a bit too staid and refined to be interesting, and I find myself pressed to give it even three stars. My apologies to any of the band’s fans that may be offended, but this one just doesn’t do anything for me.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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