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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 125 - 12/05/06

Through the retro-scope
Anniversary Album of the Moonth

Tortoise
Millions Now Living Will Never Die

This is a piece in a series of 12 Luna Kafé desserts, presenting a dozen of records celebrating their 40th, 30th, 20th or 10th birthday this year 2006. I've chosen three out of each "class". Classics, milestones, favourites. You name it. Some among the global masses, others maybe in smaller circuits only. Maybe we could group them under the moniker "Pet Records" - to re-name one of the many 40-year-olds of 2006.

The Tortoise collective had their breakthrough in 1994 with their debut Tortoise, with a new blend of instrumental rock, picking inspiration from the 1970s. Progressive, experimental, minimalism, Kraut, electronica, drone, improv, with jazzy elements. The list is long. Quite peculiar, when all of a sudden a bunch of former indie/noise pop/punk rockers switch their musical style/output so totally, in a rather drastic and dramatic way/direction. Interesting, because they've brought elements from their 'former musical lives' along into their new 'music machine'. They've matured and moved on, without losing learning from their former path, in bands like Bastro, Eleventh Dream Day, Poster Children, Tar Babies, and others.

Two years after the debut, another masterpiece was presented - Millions Now Living Will Never Die. The monumental "Djed" opens the album. A 21-minute piece of music filling the entire side 1 (of the LP). It loops and drones, with a softly pulsating bass over some slowly hissing 'gentle-noise'. Then it's like entering a train-ride of rhythms, before 'landing' safely after an exotic journey through jungles, deserts, mountains and canyons. It's a spellbinding track, and very a picturesque one. In fact Tortoise create music close to what moving images are and how they appear to us. Their sound of music has indeed got a cinematic feeling. Not so strange these guys have been involved with making film music later.

Side 2 has got more 'normal' tracks, at least when it comes to length. "Glass Museum" seems to be quite strict as first 'sight', but its structure is a fascinating web. "The Taut and Tame" is another track with an intriguing body. "Dear Grandma and Grandpa" is a short, bubbly and spooky piece. The majestic "Along the Banks of the River" closes the album, leaving you quite numb. Millions Now Living Will Never Die almost feels like being a sacral piece of work.

Copyright © 2006 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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