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Music Consumption: Tortoise
03/27/2000 Tortoise: TNT

Tortoise's TNT -- For quite a while I wasn't so fond of this, but it's grabbed me now. I like the trombone in the title track and the King Crimson flava of "Ten-Day Interval."

"I Set My Face to the Hillside" is a treasure, though. Sure, it sounds like Space Age Bachelor Pad music (not a bad thing, as far as I'm concerned)--the kind of e-z-listening Muzak® constantly piped into restaurants, waiting rooms, etc. When I was growing up, that kind of thing always bothered me; it seemed as if it was firmly entrenched, never to go away, and any culture of authentic feeling (read: rock) would always have to exist in opposition to it. But--astonishingly--it, like everything else, passes with time. It's not the inevitable, casual titan I thought it was, and in its time-weakened state, it seems precious in a way. It reminds me of being a child and going out to dinner with my parents, and it suggests a variety of the optimism of the suburban '50s (a decade during which I didn't exist, oddly enough). I find that I have an affection for the Populuxe era and its post-noir pre-irony. Sure, the Beats were in opposition to that; the spectre of imminent nuclear destruction haunted everyone, and there was that McCarthyism factor. But even as suburbia oppressed with its sameness, it encouraged and required gestures toward the exotic such as this song--a kind of innocent longing toward the Other.

"The Equator," "The Suspension Bridge at Igazu Falls," and "Everglade" do much the same for me. There's a suggestion of "cocktails by the pool with international guests" swankiness that I find attractive. They are (particularly "Everglade") redolent of thick summer nights of possibility and subtle strangeness. Society today gives one so few ways of becoming an adult that one has to grasp what one can. Swankiness is as good of an entry point as any.

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