Tortoise reached its apotheosis with this brilliant 12" for Stereolab's Duophonic Super 45s label. Beautiful yet demanding, the 12-minute "Gamera" spans the gap between the dub-like melodicism of the band's earliest efforts and the more jazz-inspired deconstructions of their subsequent work, its rich colors and textures as mercurial as those of a bolt of crushed velvet. What begins with ringing, fingerpicked guitars quickly gives way to deeply pulsating bass, funky yet martial drums, and phase-shifting electronics, effectively encapsulating their output to date while at the same time precipitating everything to follow -- unquestionably a masterpiece. The 15-minute "Cliff Dweller Society" picks up where "Gamera" leaves off, corralling Chicago notables including Jeb Bishop, Evan Coleman, and future Tortoise full-timer Jeff Parker for what sounds like a spin around the dial of a radio installed in the dashboard of a spaceship.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny