Monday, 9 May 2011

Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die

Released back in 1996 as the burgeoning post rock scene was rising to prominence, this contains what I think is still one of the genre's greatest ever statements - 'Djed'. This was the 21 minute epic that took up the entire first side of the album. At the time, it was a common characteristic of post rock that the bass would often lead the melody, and this piece is driven by a monstrous chugging bass line that provides rhythm and melody in equal measure, as an electric piano slowly comes in riffing over the top. Obviously a 21 minute track has to progress, as in Prog-ress, like all great tracks that take up an entire side of an LP. The beat slows down as the bass mongs out on one note, before some slightly Phillip Glass-esque syncopated keys and vibes arpeggiate all over the place in a rather epic section. Everything then spanners out as if your stereo has broken, then these broken sounds are looped into their own groove, while more instruments are brought in, until this, too breaks down into an ultra-low, slow pulsing bass groove. An awesome track, an inspired construction.
The rest of the tracks are also excellent, combining clenched brain jazzism with piles of bass blocks and electronic smudges vibraphones and a lush closer. The desertified beauty of 'Along The Banks Of Rivers' soundtracking an imaginary western where all the protagonists are having an afternoon kip in a hammock for the film's duration.


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