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Tortoise: Millions Now Living Will Never Die

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (12/26/96, p.198) - "...the dark pulse and melodic abstraction of '70s German avant-rock; the hypnotonal minimalism of vintage Steve Reich and Terry Riley; the distended rhythms of ambient dance music; lush chamber jazz; Brian Eno's experiments....their ethereal subversion is a pleasure..."

Spin (9/99, p.154) - Ranked #67 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."

Spin (3/96, pp.112-113) - 7 - Flawed Yet Worthy - "...McEntire's great talent, after his not inconsiderable drumming and synth capabilities, is making like Brian Eno....[he] apes Eno paradigmatically rather than stylistically....MILLIONS...is the work of a full-fledged member of the Brianist Conspiracy..."

Q (5/01, p.72) - "...Revolutionized US indie rock and established Chicago as post-rock's Seattle. Dub, Kraut, free jazz, avant-electronica and classical minimalism played by veterans of the hardcore punk circuit..."

Uncut (p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A] superb post-rock touchstone..."

Alternative Press (5/96, p.91) - 5 - Supreme - "...a collective of pretentious, searching and brilliant musicians...a world where chaos and beauty are best of friends, and where sprawl and display hold hands with introspection..."

The Wire (p.60) - "Bold studio savvy goes hand in hand with intelligent, disciplined playing....Much of this album has a sunset melancholy, filtered through group playing sleek with understatement."

Melody Maker (12/21-28/96, pp.66-67) - Ranked #25 on Melody Maker's list of 1996's "Albums Of The Year."

Melody Maker (1/27/96, p.35) - Bloody Essential - "...one of the five most important records...to surface from the American `alternative' quagmire this decade. And that's just on the strength of the opening track....Tortoise [are]...ambient, sure, but they're always on the move, never still..."

Musician (5/96, p.102) - "Wallow in the oceanic sweep of Dave Pajo's guitar work....Dig the dueling marimbas and Brian Wilsonesque bassline on the 21-minute `Djed'--and don't be surprised when that middle section of the piece suddenly morphs into a white-noise synth opus....They're twisted--in a nice way..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.59) - Ranked #64 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "Dave Pajo's guitar work brings a rustic authenticity to the bouncy futuristic grooves."

NME (Magazine) (12/21-28/96, pp.66-67) - Ranked #35 in NME's 1996 critic's poll.

NME (Magazine) (1/27/96, p.42) - 8 (out of 10) - "...MILLIONS NOW LIVING...is far too addictive, too organic, too incontrovertibly groovy to be no more than an art-rock cult....there's a rampant ambition to stretch the parameters...to mix and and match and generally muck up a proverbial shedload of different types of music..."

Album Notes

Tortoise: Dave Pajo (guitar, bass); Doug McCombs (lap steel guitar, bass); John Herndon (electric piano, vibraphone, drums, electronic drums); John McEntire (electric piano, organ, synthesizer, melodica, marimba, drums, samples); Dan Bitney (organ, synthesizer, bass, percussion, electronic drums).

Recorded at Idful Music Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Soma Electronic Music Studios, Chicago, Illinois in 1995.

At once dimly settled and quietly driving, Tortoise's second album is afloat in contradictions. The group's "songs," all instrumental, are entirely about moods--marrying open-ended, dub-infected grooves with delays and other studio effects, pouring on vibraphone and marimbas, and electronically discombobulating the rhythms to create a sort of chill-out music birthed at the bottom of the ocean. But even their calmest modes offer a propulsiveness missing from much atmospheric music. Call it beat-wise ambient, if you must.

Yet even that simplification doesn't do justice to this album's expansive, anything-goes audio imagery. Multiple, thread-like textures interconnect in Tortoise's pieces, and dilate to become backdrops for the movie scenes of bizarre dreams--ranging from lonesome, psychedelically-charged Sergio Leone westerns to glued whirlpools of Ralph Bakshi's outer worlds, all in dimly lit Technicolor. MILLIONS NOW LIVING is among the first albums designed to soothe your nerves in the 21st century, and to do so without putting you to sleep.



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