Selected by Dan
Chicago avant-indie rock collective
Tortoise hit Japan in a tour that will touch down at Liquid Room for a six-hour marathon
concert also featuring some of the leading lights of Japan's experimental scene.
Formed in Chicago in 1990 by bassist Doug McCombs and percussionist/keyboardist John
Herndon, Tortoise was initially intended as a gun-for-hire rhythm section but rapidly
blossomed into something more with the addition of producer/drummer/vibes-player John
McEntire. Soon filled out with the addition of guitarist Bundy K. Brown and percussionist
Dan Bitney, the group began to show its experimental colors with their eponymous release
from Thrill Jockey in 1993.
Shunning the dominant alt-rock and indie rock sounds of the day, Tortoise instead opted
for an eclectic sound that incorporated anything from Krautrock to classic, film music to
electronica. An amorphous grouping that at times saw the band perform with two vibes
players on stage, Tortoise were also lauded for their high level of musicianship and group
Tortoise began to make their mark on the international stage with the 1996 album Millions
Now Living Will Never Die, including the monster 21-minute track, "Djed."
Linking up with leading European electronica experimentalists such as Luke Vibert and
U.N.K.L.E., they released their third album, TNT, in 1998, followed by Standards earlier
The upcoming Tortoise Orchestra event will climax in a monster set that will join Tortoise
with the offshoot Chicago Underground Trio in an eight-piece, three-drum set performance.
John McEntire will also offer a solo set on Apple Powerbook, while Chicago Underground
Trio member Rob Mazrek's Orton Socket unit is also slated to perform.
From Japan, founder of Kyotoís highly-regarded experimental indie label Childisc,
Nobukazu Takemura will be on hand. Like Tortoise, Takemura and other Childisc artists are
distributed by Thrill Jockey in the US. Also making appearances will be linchpin of the
Tokyo experimental scene, abstract/hip hop DJ Kensei, and the Silicom group.
Meanwhile, another leading figure of the Chicago underground and occasional Tortoise
remixer, Jim O'Rourke, will be in Japan for a tour that joins him with Sonic Youth
guitarist Thurston Moore and Mats Gustafsson. Entitled Diskaholics Anonymous, the tour
will hit gritty live house 20,000 Volts in Koenji on Oct 27, and the more posh club Cay in
Aoyama on Oct 28. Tortoise Orchestra play Liquid Room Nov 10.See listings for details.