One of the great releases this year is the Tortoise boxset of singles and other non-album releases called A Lazarus Taxon. I’ve been a fan of Tortoise since just before TNT came out in 1998. A guy I used to work with was into a lot of the same bands I was, and recommended that I listen to Tortoise and The Sea and Cake. He lent me Tortoise’s eponymous debut CD. It was that CD and TNT that would be released later that summer that clinched Tortoise as a band that I wanted to follow. At the time, I hadn’t heard anything like them and the bookish progressive nature of the instrumentals opened the world of what is sometimes called Post Rock to me. It was exciting to discover what seemed to be a new genre of rock, and I spent a lot of time that summer looking into the bands that fell into that category– The Sea and Cake, Fridge, Couch, To Rococo Rot, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and others.
One of the difficulties I encountered was that by the time I wanted to start getting all of their releases a bunch of non-album stuff went out of print. Over time I managed to pick up some of the older releases and made sure that I bought anything new that came out.
So, when I heard that Tortoise was going to have a box set with the rare and import-only tracks I was really happy! The first rumor about this release was that Tortoise was going to re-release the impossibly rare Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters. Then it was announced that this would be the centerpiece to a larger boxset.
Pitchfork gave this release a glowing 9.2. Some of the other reviews I read at the time of the release said that this was a good primer for people who wanted to know about Tortoise. This release is kind of the sibling to the Stereolab box set Oscillations from the Anti-Sun, which is also an odds ‘n’ sods collection with a DVD. While this release is a blessing for anyone who wants to collect Tortoise– it is missing some tracks. For those completists out there, I’m going to do a rundown of the missing tracks. I’ve been keeping track as I’m going to make a CD of these “outtakes” for myself. This is somewhat inspired by a posting of mp3’s that showed up in Usenet News called “An Unofficial Lazarus Companion” that also wasn’t complete!
“Mosquito” (US 7″ Torsion Music, B17-003-7″, 1993) The first release from Tortoise. Tortoise’s original moniker was “Mosquito” which is where this track gets its name. This track is now a bonus track on the Japanese re-release of their eponymous debut.
“Gooseneck” (US 7″ Torsion Music, B17-003-7″, 1993) One of the other tracks on the debut single. Today this shows up on the Japanese A Digest Compendium of the Tortoise’s World. “Onions Wrapped In Rubber” from this single was eventually released on the first album.
“Lonesome Sound” (US 7″ Thrill Jockey, thrill 006, 1993) The first release on Thrill Jockey. This is a cover of a Freakwater song. Tortoise vocals grace this song. This song also showed up on something called “Brainblo” which was evidently a collection of three 7″ singles. This record was briefly back in print during the 1998 TNT tour.
“Reservoir” (US 7″ Thrill Jockey, thrill 006, 1993) Also on the “Lonesome Sound” 7″. Available on the Japanese Digest release.
“Sheets” (US 7″ Thrill Jockey, thrill 006, 1993) Also on the “Lonesome Sound” 7″. Not available anywhere else.
“Madison Ave.” (US 7″ Thrill Jockey, thrill 057, 1998) The single this is from is also referred to as “Tour 1998.” The flipside of this single is remix of this song “Madison Area” and shows up on the Taxon box.
“D’s Winter Crazy Dub” (US 12″ Thrill Jockey, 12.10, 1998) This was yet another release from 1998– sort of a companion release to the Autechre remixes of “Ten-Day Interval” from TNT. Derrick Carter remixes “In Sarah, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Women and Men.” Possibly this was left off because in retrospect it isn’t as good as the prior remixes.
“D’s Winter Outtake” (US 12″ Thrill Jockey, 12.10, 1998) The flipside to the Derrick Carter remix.
“In A Thimble” (Hefty014, Hefty Records, 1999) This song was recorded for the soundtrack to “Reach the Rock” which is an album of mostly songs from John McEntire as well as Sea and Cake and Bundy K. Brown.
“Beautiful Love” (US CD Hollywood 2061-62471, 2004) This was a song recorded for the documentary about the late Bob Moog titled “Moog.” An interesting song– sounds very different from other Tortoise releases.
Remixed (US CD Thrill Jockey, 12.9, 1998) Originally a Japanese release in 1996, this is a compilation of the 4 12″ releases of tracks from Millions. In 1998 the rest of the world was treated to a limited tour-only release. At that time the Japanese version was re-released with the Autechre remix “Adverse Camber” added as a bonus. These tracks were possibly not included as they were released as one album? Tracks:
“Djed (Bruise Blood mix by U.N.K.L.E.)”, “Tjed (remix by John McEntire)”, “Bubble Economy (remix by Marcus Popp)”, “Learning Curve (remix by Marcus Popp)”, “Galapagos [version one] (remix by Springheel Jack)“, “Reference Resistance Gate (remix by Jim O’Rourke)”, “Taut & Tame (remix by Luke Vibert)”, “Find the One (remix by Bundy K. Brown)”
“Omnichord” (unreleased) I include this song on the list since it has been played on tour since the release of It’s All Around You. Evidently an outtake song. According to reports on the trts.com board at the time, this song may show up later as a b-side or bonus track. Tortoise recorded this on their “Morning Becomes Eclectic” set back in November of 2005.
Quite a list of songs– enough to have made another CD or two for the set! But, what fun would that have been?
My collection of Tortoise releases