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Tortoise Gamera / Cliff Dweller Society album cover
4.86 | 2 ratings | 1 reviews | 50% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Gamera (11:54)
2. Cliff Dweller Society (15:45)

Total Time 27:39

Line-up / Musicians


Releases information

Duophonic DS33-09

Thanks to Lynx33 for the addition
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TORTOISE Gamera / Cliff Dweller Society ratings distribution

(2 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (0%)
Collectors/fans only (50%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TORTOISE Gamera / Cliff Dweller Society reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
5 stars This is a 2 track single that lasts almost an entire half hour. This is an example of Tortoise at their inventive and experimental best. It is an example of their greatest work and is a good way for most listeners to test the waters to see if this style of post-rock is for them or not. Tortoise utilizes experimental composition, some jazz elements and explore the sub genre in ways that other bands don't. I really look up to their brand of inventiveness that stretches the boundaries of post and math rock.

"Gamera" is over 13 minutes long and starts out as a very pleasant acoustic song that establishes the main thematic element which the band will eventually start to build upon. The music continues to build as is typical of post rock. The thing that is different here is that there is no wall of noise established and no real climax as what is typical of a lot of post rock. Instead, they take a math- rock approach and continue to explore the themes. There is a very wise use of dynamism here to keep the music from wearing itself out. As the song comes to about 2 minutes before the ending, the music fades out completely and you have enough time to wonder why there is all this silence, when it fades back in with a strange reverb sound that give the impression that something has gone terribly wrong with this song and some things have been reversed while other elements have interfered with the entire theme, and while some the song seems to try to regain control, it only makes things worse until the music loses it's way and gives in to spoken word. This is a track that has to be listened to several times to understand just how complex it is while on the surface it seems so simplistic.

"Cliff Dweller Society" is a 15 minute epic and while the previous track explored a theme, this one just moves from one element to another throughout it's length, but as it does this, it keeps some semblance of unity. There is a lot of jazz usage in this track that wasn't so apparent in the last one. I heard it said that this track is a lot like moving around on a radio dial on a spaceship and this is a good way to explain the music here. It does start off as a concise piece but as it continues, it jumps from one station to another as if someone is searching for something but is not quite finding it. The use of electronics is done tastefully as loops come and go, rhythms glide in and out and even a brass section gets involved in this. Even though this may seem chaotic, on the contrary it is very smooth, not ambient, but jazzy with touches of dissonance appearing and disappearing. Great stuff.

This is music that transcends any formula that post rock listeners might be used to. It is definitely thinking music, it can be used as background because it is somewhat light, but it is so complex that it demands to be listened to. This is a great way to enter the world of Tortoise, but remember that their music is so varied, that this is only a small sample as to what the band offers. Great music, only available as bonus tracks in other countries, so if you can find this one, by all means, pick it up and get ready for some great experimental progressive jazz unlike anything else. Yes it is a single but, damn, I still gotta give it 5 stars.

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