album by Tortoise
. A superb 74-minute sonic masterpiece produced by John McEntire
. Entirely instrumental
, shifting mood-tones and colors... building.
02 swung through the gutters
03 ten-day interval
04 i set my face to the hillside
05 the equator
06 a simple way to go faster than light that does not work
07 the suspension bridge at iguanzu falls
08 four-day interval
09 in sarah, mencken, christ, and beethoven there were women and men
10 almost always is nearly enough
The evening is moody forecasted contemplation. As my spiritual awakening to the music of Tortoise simmers to my head, I have few meager words and a thousand abstractions to say – with dosage, my voyage begins. The first pensive rolls of the drums, slowly the visage of crisp, clear ethereal 12-note guitar riffage sifting through my head, immediately recalling a thousand not-my-memories. I’ve known this riff all my life – never to hear it until now, the unfurling of archetype cosmic identification, sieving my head like a prism – I am one with Tortoise’s “TNT," awaiting every simultaneous gift it bears; years of scrutiny await & yet everything I have to know about life, the universe and everything is encased in these notes. The trumpet has an aroma.
“Swung Through the Gutters” strides in with its unrelenting bass march through the underworld of soundsnakes in soundscapes etching & itching my mind open, providing harmine receptors with a balance of tonal dissonance, wordless music talking to me, informing. The drums, their fractured mathematics drumming over crystal-clear production, I think of all the negative energy that soon will float away as a “Ten-Day Interval” approaches me.
The sweet hoarse echo hum of eternity sequences through the speaker and suddenly the slow mallet to vibraphone notes, pans and awakens. Then, a tapping of a note sequence and the slow arrival of a pensive bass laying out an infinite sprawl of collective unconscious tragic memories, loss, loneliness, disparity, all of these holding an intrinsic beauty, and as the song floats away, I realize that tragedy, archetypal or real, floats away.
Far away, the sounds of a playground, children having their youthful pleasures, and a sweet acoustic guitar summarizing that this is the world, and it is all for the children, “I Set My Face to the Hillside” is just that, the immersion of the non-polar simple complexity of nature. My internal visions of vast green pastures, snow-tipped mountains, all summarized by the hum of a squeezebox and the toots of a melodica, every plane, every partition of existence, perfectly in a cycle, all to see is right there. But what happens when we fuck with nature? Can it lead to a positive synthetic culmination?
“The Equator” attempts to answer this with bumbling synth bass over layers of inexplicitly fractal-processed acoustics, a synthetic life is equated with one of the natural life. We can reconcile the two and come to conclusions of distinct equality. We create our reality from the natural world, distorted as it is, synthesized to a worldview. This song illustrates the complete balance within our selves of a synthetic world.
“A Simple Way to Go Faster Than Light That Does Not Work” soothes your muscles. It’s like a back massage, given to you by God. No distractions, just the vibration, and the determination to move onward. Thinking, you think, use to be something else, but now it’s an entirely different thing. This song I spend contemplating what has happened in the album, what in this listening, have I learned, and what have I to learn in the tracks that await?
The backrub of the ethereal, eternity figure over, it is time to make a mythic crossing, a metaphor contained within “The Suspension Bridge at Iguazu Falls.” A pangy, cleanly shaven guitar riff executes, and we are welcomed to the sweet sounds imitated of the water below us, as we engage in the godmind. And then the thunder, but this is not thunder of anger, no, this is god’s thunder of decisive action! Cleanly, in greatest honor played on bass, the thunder instills one with the prophetic subtext it airs.
But now, the searching comes, was it god who spoke to me? A “Four-Day Interval” is needed in slow contemplation, as images inside images, pixels on pixels, of every sight sound, layered in cosmic meanings from distant, far off places, some even occurring in other realms of reality, perhaps, interstellar. The collective unconscious is most open a suggestive at this time in communicating the closed-eye movie.
Passing to something that makes you imagine an entire society based on certain kinds of individuals, artists, socially-conscious, trip-conscious, people will convene – and that too, that too will be God. Once again, I realize that music can save the world. “In Sarah, Mencken, Christ And Beethoven There Were Women And Men” illustrates what our “awake” world could be like. The swirling bass line, the multi-layered percussion, the otherness, the slides, the acoustic classical guitar. It swoons the dreamer.
“Almost Always is Nearly Enough” is where things get weird, because they do. By this time in your listening, you’re going crazy. Nuts. This is nuts. This is created sound animals pulsating. inBOIL and his crew cutting their fucking fingers off. Creatures from the outer realms of Techra are the Triangular Dissids of Issid. Here, pictures are painted of mucus-membrane mountains, thinking to a collective thought pattern, that illuminates, and enlivens its world. And then you realize. You are talking in the third person. You are nuts. I am nuts.
And something needs to see me out of that tunnel. “Jetty” takes that spiral, and turns it into a walk, a guiding hand back to the conscious reality we live in every day. We then walk into the “Everglade” which drifts your mind to the right power place to see it all. Everything spread out before you, and you can do anything you want with it, bur remember: you can always walk away. To shits with the cosmic internment camps.
Tortoise's TNT is available at your local independent record store.