Tortoise (band)

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Tortoise
Tortoise (27352723504).jpg
Tortoise performing in 2016
Background information
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Post-rock
Years active1990present
Labels Thrill Jockey, Warp, City Slang, Domino
Associated acts Bastro, The Sea And Cake, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Eleventh Dream Day, Poster Children, Slint, The For Carnation, Brokeback, Isotope 217, Zwan, Beck
Website trts.com
Members Dan Bitney
Doug McCombs
Jeff Parker
John Herndon
John McEntire
Past members Bundy K. Brown
David Pajo

Tortoise is an American post-rock band formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1990. [1] The band incorporates krautrock, dub, minimal music, electronica and jazz into their music, a combination sometimes termed "post-rock". Tortoise have been consistently credited for the rise of the post-rock movement in the 1990s.

Contents

History

1990s

The group's origins lie in the late 1980s pairing of Doug McCombs (bassist with Eleventh Dream Day) and drummer John Herndon, who initially wanted to establish themselves as a freelance rhythm section (like reggae legends Sly and Robbie). The idea did not come to fruition, but their interest in grooving rhythms, as well as their recording studio knowledge led to partnerships with drummer John McEntire and bassist Bundy K. Brown (both formerly of Bastro and Gastr Del Sol) joining, followed by percussionist Dan Bitney. Though songs are credited to all the musicians, McEntire became perceived as the group's guiding force,[ citation needed ] as his contributions mainly took the form of being the recording engineer and mixer.

Their first single was issued in 1993, and their self-titled debut album followed a year later. [2] Instrumental and mostly mid-tempo, Tortoise slowly garnered praise and attention, notably for its unusual instrumentation (two bass guitars, three percussionists switching between drums, vibraphones and marimbas). A remix album followed, Rhythms, Resolutions and Clusters . [2]

Brown left and was replaced by David Pajo (formerly of Slint) for 1996's Millions Now Living Will Never Die , [2] which showed up on many year-end best of lists, and the 20-minute Djed was described by critic John Bush as proof that "Tortoise made experimental rock do double duty as evocative, beautiful music." [3] Also in 1996, the band contributed to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization.

They released a Japanese-only compilation featuring tracks from the eponymous debut, Rhythms, singles and compilation appearances, named A Digest Compendium of the Tortoise's World on November 21, 1996. [4]

In 1998, Tortoise released TNT , arguably their most jazz-inflected album. [2] Jeff Parker had joined as a guitarist alongside Pajo, who left the band following the album's completion.

2000s–present

2001 led to Standards , where Tortoise incorporated more electronic sounds and post-production into its music than in previous works. In 2001, the band curated an edition of the British All Tomorrow's Parties festival. They then returned in 2004 to curate another day of the same event.

It's All Around You was released in 2004. In 2006, Tortoise collaborated with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on an album of covers entitled The Brave and the Bold , and released A Lazarus Taxon , a box set containing two CDs of single tracks and remixes, a third CD with an expanded Rhythms, Resolutions and Clusters (out of print) and a DVD of videos and film of live performances. In 2001, the band recorded "Didjeridoo" for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo , a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to AIDS related causes.

Bitney and McEntire also contributed to the Bright Eyes album Cassadaga . The group has worked with multi-instrumentalist Paul Duncan of the band Warm Ghost. [5]

Tortoise performing at the Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago (2008) TortoiseChicago2008.jpg
Tortoise performing at the Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago (2008)

Tortoise released their previous to last album, Beacons of Ancestorship , on June 23, 2009. [6] The band toured the Midwestern US in September and October 2009, and then in Europe in November and December. The band performed at the ATP New York 2010 music festival, which was held in Monticello, New York.

In 2012, Tortoise wrote and recorded the soundtrack to Eduardo Sánchez's Lovely Molly , a psychological horror film partly inspired by traditional folk songs. [7] A seventh studio album, The Catastrophist , was released by Thrill Jockey in early 2016, preceded by the single Gesceap. [8]

Musical style

As Tortoise rose to prominence in their early career, their often instrumental music has been noted for its ambiguous categorization. The members have roots in Chicago's fertile music scene, playing in various indie rock and punk rock groups. Tortoise was among the first American indie rock bands to incorporate styles closer to krautrock, dub, minimal music, electronica and various jazz styles, rather than the strong rock and roll roots that had dominated the genre.[ citation needed ]

Tortoise has been cited as one of the prime forces behind the development and popularity of the post-rock movement. [9] [10] CMJ writer Jim Allen highlighted the influence of progressive rock on Tortoise's post-rock style. [9]

Other groups related to Tortoise include The Sea and Cake, Brokeback, Slint, Isotope 217, Chicago Odense Ensemble, Tar Babies, and the Chicago Underground Duo. Tortoise records on the Thrill Jockey label.

Discography

Studio albums

Other releases

Remix albums and compilations

Singles and music videos

Related Research Articles

Post-rock is a form of experimental rock characterized by a focus on exploring textures and timbre over traditional rock song structures, chords, or riffs. Post-rock artists are often instrumental, typically combining rock instrumentation with electronics. The genre emerged within the indie and underground music scene of the 1980s and early 1990s. However, due to its abandonment of rock conventions, it often bears little resemblance musically to contemporary indie rock, borrowing instead from diverse sources including ambient, electronica, jazz, krautrock, dub, and minimalist classical.

Slint American rock band

Slint was an American rock band from Louisville, Kentucky, formed in 1986. The band consisted of guitarist and vocalist Brian McMahan, guitarist David Pajo, drummer and vocalist Britt Walford, Todd Brashear, and Ethan Buckler. Slint's first album, Tweez, was recorded by engineer Steve Albini in 1987 and released in obscurity on the Jennifer Hartman Records label in 1989. It was followed two years later by the critically acclaimed Spiderland, released on the independent label Touch and Go Records.

<i>Spiderland</i> 1991 studio album by Slint

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Trans Am (band) American rock band

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Neu! German band

Neu! was a German krautrock band formed in Düsseldorf in 1971 by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother following their departure from Kraftwerk. The group's albums were produced by Conny Plank, who has been regarded as the group's "hidden member". They released three albums in their initial incarnation—Neu! (1972), Neu! 2 (1973), and Neu! 75 (1975)—before disbanding in 1975. They briefly reunited in the mid-1980s.

Harmonia (band)

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<i>Millions Now Living Will Never Die</i> 1996 studio album by Tortoise

Millions Now Living Will Never Die is the second studio album by American post-rock band Tortoise. The album was released on January 30, 1996 by Thrill Jockey.

<i>TNT</i> (Tortoise album) 1998 studio album by Tortoise

TNT is the third studio album by American post-rock band Tortoise, released in 1998 by Thrill Jockey. After Jeff Parker joined the band in 1996, Tortoise recorded TNT over the course of a year with drummer John McEntire acting as producer, editor and mixing. Taking influence from their remix material of the 1990s, the band recorded the album using hard disk technology in a "forward-then-back" approach, with members individually adding parts to tracks at different stages until the tracks were completed. As with previous albums, the band members also shared instrumental roles.

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References

  1. 1 2 Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 995–996. ISBN   1-84195-017-3.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Nineties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 399. ISBN   0-7535-0427-8.
  3. Bush, John. Review (AllMusic) for 1996 Tortoise album Millions Now Living Will Never Die
  4. "Tortoise". Brainwashed.com. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  5. Sermon, Erick (March 2011). "Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP -- Partisan Records: 2011". Music Nerdery. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  6. "Tortoise Announce New Album Details | News". Pitchfork. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  7. "Tortoise Score Film by Blair Witch Director Eduardo Sánchez | News". Pitchfork. 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  8. "Tortoise Announce New LP 'The Catastrophist,' Share 'Gesceap' Single". SPIN.com. 2015-10-06. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  9. 1 2 Allen, Jim. "From Tull To Tortoise: Post-Rock's Proggy Past". CMJ.
  10. Hutlock, Todd (2006-09-01). "Review of Tortoise's A Lazarus Taxon". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
  11. "The Catastrophist". Thrilljockey.com. 2015-08-31. Retrieved 2016-01-26.