Colored vinyl sold out! All copies on black vinyl.TNT is Tortoise’s third studio album, originally released in 1998. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and packaged in a tip-on gatefold jacket with spot UV printing and free download card. TNT builds upon the spare, instrumental framework of the group’s first, self-titled album, and the extended edits, melodic adventures, and klangfarben of the subsequent full-length release, Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Further to this, Tortoise’s interest in the possibilities offered by the remixing of tracks was realized within the actual production of TNT; individual elements, sections, or sometimes whole compositions mutate within the album’s shifting framework. These techniques were suitably realized thanks in part to the use of non-linear digital recording and editing methods, the first example of such work for the group.
Millions Now Living Will Never Die is Tortoise’s second album, originally released in 1996. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and packaged in a jacket and inner sleeve both featuring spot UV printing and a free download card. The majority of the album’s material was first conceived during an idyllic 10-day retreat in Northern Vermont, where the group were able to explore their ideas in a setting that fostered introspection and inspiration. Recording commenced immediately upon returning to Chicago at both Idful (now defunct) and the then new Soma Electronic Music Studios. Millions... was the first studio recording to feature David Pajo who filled the position vacated by Bundy K. Brown in late 1994.
Limited quantities available on colored vinyl.Tortoise’s self-titled debut was originally released in 1994. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl, re-mastered by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering, and packaged in a chipboard jacket with insert and free download card. Tortoise’s self-titled debut incorporates many musical styles and influences and combines them into one very distance sound. So distinct that sometime after the release of this record they became recognized as the leaders of a new musical movement. Tortoise exploits the recording studio, in that they utilize the recording process as a compositional tool or “sixth member”, thus creating a boundless parameter in which to create music.
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Limited quantities available on colored vinylStandards is Tortoise’s fourth album originally released in 2001. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl with artworked inner sleeve, custom silk-screened PVC outer bag, and download coupon. The tunes on Standards are direct and immediate, yet they maintain the exploratory edge that has always characterized the group’s output. The fusion of instrumental sounds (electric, acoustic, and synthesized) is subtle and subversive. Similarly, the group’s fluency within the studio environment gives the finished work a quality that alternates between artifice and reality.
Beacons of Ancestorship is Tortoise’s sixth album, originally released in 2009. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and presented in an old-style tip-on gatefold jacket with artworked inner sleeve and free download card.A characteristic Tortoise album is one that traverses an encyclopedia of styles and reference points, a document of where musical intersections and dialogue are occurring at a given moment in time. Beacons of Ancestorship is no different, with nods to techno, punk, electro, lo-fi noise, cut-up beats, heavily processed synths, and mournful, elegiac dirges. We see these ideas working out in compositions like “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In,” an eight-minute track which playfully references the world of ecstatic rave and dance culture with a curiously ambivalent, multi-part suite overlaid with robotic, machine-sounding melodies that stop and start in several different time signatures before the song’s ultimate resolution; and again in “Yinxianghechengqi,” which begins as a straightforward uptempo math-rocker before steadily accelerating into a wall of fuzzy atonal sqwonk.
Limited quantities available on colored vinylIt’s All Around You is Tortoise’s fifth album, originally released in 2004. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and packaged in a jacket and inner sleeve both featuring spot UV printing and a free download card. Written largely in the studio, It’s All Around You was crafted over the course of a full year, and allowed Tortoise the use of John McEntire’s Soma Electronic Music Studios in serving not just as a state-of-the art recording facility, but as a compositional tool as well. It took months of continuous writing, recording, tinkering, mixing, and perfecting to bring It’s All Around You to it’s finalized state. The results of this process are clear in the lush, orchestrated tones, intricate melodies, and densely elaborate rhythms.
Simply put, Tortoise has spent nearly 25 years making music that defies description. While the Chicago-based instrumental quintet has nodded to dub, rock, jazz, electronica and minimalism throughout its revered and influential six-album discography, the resulting sounds have always been distinctly, even stubbornly, their own. It’s a fact that remains true on The Catastrophist, Tortoise’s first studio album in nearly seven years. And it’s an album where moody, synth-swept jams like the opening title track cozy up next to hypnotic, bass-and-beat missives like “Shake Hands With Danger” and a downright strange cover of David Essex’s 1973 radio smash “Rock On” sung by U.S. Maple’s Todd Rittman. Also included is the bittersweet, honest-to-goodness soul ballad “Yonder Blue,” sung by Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley. “We’d finished the track and decided it would be good to have vocals on it,” recalls McEntire. “Robert Wyatt was our first choice, but he had just retired and politely said no. We were discussing asking Georgia to do something, but not that track in particular. Then we realized it would totally work.” Throughout, the songs transcend expectations as often as they delight the eardrums. Tortoise, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire and Jeff Parker, has always thrived on sudden bursts of inspiration. And for The Catastrophist, the spark came in 2010 when the group was commissioned by the City of Chicago to compose a suite of music rooted in its ties to the area’s noted jazz and improvised music communities. Tortoise then performed those five loose themes at a handful of concerts, and “when we finally got around to talking about a new record, the obvious solution to begin with was to take those pieces and see what else we could do with them,” says McEntire, at whose Soma Studios the band recorded the new album. “It turned out that for them to work for Tortoise, they needed a bit more of a rethink in terms of structure. They’re all pretty different in the sense that at first they were just heads and solos. Now, they’re orchestrated and complex.” As ever, Tortoise has conjured sounds on The Catastrophist that aren’t being purveyed anywhere else in music today. There’s a deeply intuitive interplay between the group members that comes only from two decades of experimentation, revision and improvisation. And at a time when our brains are constantly bombarded by myriad distractions, The Catastrophist reminds us that there’s something much greater out there. All we have to do is listen.
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