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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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4 stars The second album from this Chicago outfit, their debut from 1994 being one of the first albums to be described as "post-rock". That first album may have been the closest Tortoise came to sounding like most post-rock. Here they continue the experimentation and you can hear influences from Krautrock, IDM and light fusion. The bass is important and you can often hear more than one bass playing at the same time. The drumming and keyboards are also important. While there is guitar, it is never a leading instrument. Oh, yes, lots and lots and mallet percussion(xylophone, vibraphone) as well. No singing, but some vocal samples.

The music is very diverse and is hard to describe acurately. Generally laid-back, but there are some energenic moments. Lots of electronics but not necessarily electronica. Tortoise were influenced by just about anything that wasn't punk or metal from the 1960s-90s. When this came out I had no internet access and had never heard of these guys anywhere. That was a time when I was convinced that all new music sucked. Thanks to the internet, I finally discovered this great unique group. I was convinced that if you wanted to hear good new music, you had to go looking for it yourself.

The album, which has a great title obviously, starts with the best 21 minutes in post- rock... "Djed". Of course, this epic sounds almost nothing like most post-rock. And it's all the better for it. It opens with electronics and basses. Later organ, then drums and bass play a very 'motorik' groove. After some jazzy electric piano joins in. Electric piano and drums change to a bass heavy dub vibe. One bass is still playing the 'motorik' line. After a bunch of synth sounds. Then electronic percussion sounds get slowed down. An organ comes in and plays melodic repeated figures. Some melodic bass and then xylophones. Before 14 minutes you hear a tape speed altering effect where the music gets paused and unpaused. Trippy when you hear it for the first time.

Electronic effects then dominate for awhile before the music becomes ambient techno. Synths making odd noises and then xylophones join in. The last two minutes or so is a slow hip-hop beat with some melodic bass playing. Great stuff! The rest of the album unfortunately does not live up to that standard. But they are great songs nonetheless. "Glass Museum" stays in a mid-tempo pace where guitar and drums mostly dominate for awhile. Then drums stop and an atmospheric section. Goes back to the mid- tempo part then all of a sudden changes to a more aggressive and rocking part played in 11/8. Good xylophone work and drumming here. Goes back to the mid-tempo section to end it.

"A Survey" is mostly two basses duelling with crickets chirping in the background. Almost reminds me of Primus. "The Taut And Tame" starts with electronic percussion type sounds. Then guitars, bass and xylophone join in. The music stops and then the band comes back playing around a guitar riff. The song changes again to a mellow jazz-rock vibe. Cool guitar sound during this part. Goes back to the beginning section. "Dear Grandma And Grandpa" is an IDM("Intelligent Dance Music") piece. You hear a woman whose voice is altered talking. All kinds of synth sounds and noises can be heard. Later you hear a man talking from a TV set or radio. That song then segues into... "Along The Banks Of Rovers" which sounds like music from a 1960s spy movie. A mellow light jazzy post-rock song. Nice synth which starts in the middle and continues till near the end.

This would be a good introduction to this group. The sound of Tortoise is hard to describe and no two albums sound alike. Millions... is a classic post-rock album although it sounds very little like most post-rock. Instrumental experimental rock music rarely got better than this in the 1990s. Almost a classic but not quite. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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