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Tortoise: TNT

Album Reviews:

Uncut (p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 - "TNT is a masterpiece: not at all avant-garde, just an hour of wonderful and timeless music."

The Wire (1/99, p.27) - Included in Wire's "50 Records Of The Year [1998]"

The Wire (3/98, p.60) - "...builds up discreetly in layers and mostly build in no apparent direction....music that refutes the idea that music could be for anything....one of the most gently perplexing records ever made. It doesn't explain what the fuss is for, but it certainly gets you wondering about it."

Vibe (4/98, p.148) - "...With walking bass lines and reverberating snare drums, Tortoise bring the noise throughout the album..."

Musician (5/98, pp.89-90) - "...Deeper, denser, and more ethereal than 1996's MILLION NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE, TNT continues the band's Ennio Morricone-meets-Can hallucination stew, perfecting their wistful melodies and fusion drumming into dreamy epic soundtracks..."

Album Notes

Tortoise: Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Douglas McCombs, John McEntire, David Pajo, Jeff Parker.

Additional personnel: Julie Liu (violin); Popahna Brandes (cello); Caitlin Horsmon (bassoon); Rob Mazurek (cornet); Sara P. Smith (trombone).

Recorded between November 1996 & November 1997.

All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.

Electronics permeate all twelve tracks here, adding textural shadings that seemed like foreign turf for the band when it first came together as an all-star crew of Chicago indie multi-instrumentalists in the early '90s. Cluster, Mouse On Mars and drum 'n' bass now hold equal footing on Tortoise's soundstage, beautifying the peripheral space while the quintet (Dave Pajo plays on the album, but is no longer a full-time member) improvises over, riffs on, and generally recontextualizes various jazzy, "out" musical styles of the last thirty years.

Generally, TNT's compositions flow out of the Ennio Morricone vibe that has always been present in their work. Lush, southwestern-desert guitar lines build the axis. The inevitable vibes provide both rhythmic undertow and curt, melodic counterpoint. Electronic studio trickery brightens the various sonic corners. Tortoise also has an instinct for transforming some of these beautiful abstractions into catchy head-nodders. Case in point: "In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Women and Men," where acoustic guitar and House-lite beat create the kind of '70s dance groove you wouldn't think "serious" musicians knew anything about.



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