Tortoise and the Ex – In The Fishtank 5 (1999): Forgotten series

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Tortoise is one of those bands that, once I locked into what was going on behind their music, I found that I understood what was going on in a lot of other bands I hadn’t really “gotten” up until then.

It was because of Tortoise that I finally “got” bands like Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse, to name a few, and it’s not really because the music is similar: It’s really not, other than tending to be more introspective. It’s really more the sense of humor all these bands share, in addition to some similarities in the sprawling, indie-movie road-trip feel their music elicits from me.

All of these bands share something else — being quickly labeled “quirky” by everyone who hears them.

In keeping, this particular outing was actually a sort of dueling-band collaboration with The Ex, a short twenty-two minute display of how two essentially completely different bands can interact. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t — some of it simply wanders off into pure noise land, and a couple times the two bands really mesh up nicely.

Really, it’s the quality of the music that I find really affects me. Tortoise invokes a kind of dream-like quality in their music, playing up the droning elements moreso than the others.

It’s this kind of music I always find myself wishing I had more of — because what I have is never enough.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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