Quick note: in an effort to reduce the mechanical footprint flattening my life, I am not participating in tech. use on weekends or after the sun goes down on weekdays. If I seem aloof or unresponsive, this is likely the reason. As a result…I have been listening to more music and developing a bit more soul.
Much to add to this thread. I will begin with direct intergenerational connection thorugh music. I introduced Miles, my five year old son, to Tortoise’s TNT album two years ago. I was searching for audio that was relevant to my life and went beyond the radio, which is tuned to the classical station in the car and hardly used in the house. Tortoise is considered post-rock. Though I could launch into Tortoise’s history and style(s)…I am focusing on this particular album and its story in my life.
TNT has been on a nightly loop since I placed the old CD (now 20 years old!!) into the player, after an evening spent rummaging through my not-so-compact teenage disc collection. Miles and I have listened to this album nightly…if we travel, the music is the missing blanket that can luckily be replaced with a quick search on YouTube for “Tortoise TNT full album” (though if you choose to listen via YouTube, you will miss the infinite subtleties of the artists’ instrumentation).
We camp with this album, roasting marshmallows with the marimba on “Ten Day Interval,” a song influenced by Steve Reich’s signature style; we swim into the depths of dark nights and angry outbursts of young male misunderstandings, treading silent speech as we contemplate the song “Four-Day Interval.” Miles does not fall asleep until he reaches track 4, “I Set My Face to the Hillside” which begins with a dubbing of kids playing while a Spaghetti Western riff enters the scene. I have spent many nights laying beside his bed as we read our books, soaking in the complex rhythms of the two drummers and the various other layers of instrumentation. I have noticed on multiple occasions his humming and hand drumming reflect the complex rhythms of Tortoise. My personal favorite is “Swung from the Gutters;” It gets more elusive with each listen…even after 2 years of passive and active listening, I still do not know how they put this song (and album) together.
My first experience listening to the album is engraved in memory. I was playing chess with a high school friend. Engrossed in the game and in our heightened state of awareness, the wordless music generated a zone. The game was not just a game of chess in that moment. We were playing the game of life. There was no intention of winning the game. Only the complexity revealed itself and we proceeded in a creative dance until the pieces were in the exact spot that they needed to be in.
I like this quote from John McEntire (a member of the band who edited and engineered this album)…I think it reflects what we do here, especially in this thread:
“I don’t think we played anything simultaneously: every single element was overdubbed. Somebody would put down an idea, loop it, or whatever, somebody would come in and lay something else down and then go back and work on the arrangement some more, and then somebody else would come in… it was this sort of piecemeal, forward-then-back-a-little approach.”