1996, Music

Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1996) by Tortoise

Whether or not Post Rock actually began in 1994 with Hex is something we can argue about, but you could say that Post Rock, for Americans, started with Tortoise. Now, I’ve never heard their earliest albums, but it’s hard not to look at this record – with its suite-like 20 minute opener, and its genre hopping between krautrock, math rock, electronic music, and other styles – and not see the foundation of American post rock and, particularly, that brand of post rock that is most influenced by electronic music (and minimalism). So, to my ears, this is a foundational record for one of the many different styles of post rock. That alone makes it really important.

But it’s also good: “Djed” is possibly without precedent in rock music. (Okay, that might be a little extreme.) It’s essentially a suite of pieces in different musical genres, combined in a way that is not obviously intuitive. And though you could listen to it as background music, when you really dwell on it, it’s an elaborate and complex production, in the end, that keeps a similar mood while varying wildly.

The other tracks show off different aspects of the band’s personality (much like “Djed” does) and even some of those shorter ones are mini-suites, as well. It’s kind of bonkers that they can pull off so many styles equally well, and that they assume that these styles can just be smashed together. (And they do that successfully.)

A real landmark and essential listening.

10/10

All tracks written by Tortoise (Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Douglas McCombs, John McEntire and David Pajo), except where noted.

  1. “Djed” 20:57
  2. “Glass Museum” 5:27
  3. “A Survey” 2:52
  4. “The Taut and Tame” (TortoiseBundy K. Brown) 5:01
  5. “Dear Grandma and Grandpa” 2:49
  6. “Along the Banks of Rivers” 5:50
  • Dan Bitney: percussion
  • John Herndon: drums, percussion
  • Douglas McCombs: bass guitar; guitar
  • John McEntire: drums percussion, programming, editing
  • David Pajo: guitar; bass guitar

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