“In my mind, Tortoise has always carried an extremely mysterious aura. I was first introduced to Tortoise in 1998 in the form of a dubbed cassette. I was fourteen, familiar with Nirvana and their derivative bands, but little else. To my young mind, the music of Tortoise was incomprehensible. It was like nothing I had ever heard, and I had absolutely no idea what they were trying to do… I also had absolutely no context for the band in time and space. Was Tortoise some crazy 1970s Eastern European band? Was it just one guy in his mom’s basement right down the street? The totality of my knowledge of this band was 30-minutes of other-worldly music (which turned out to be their self-titled debut), and the word “Tortoise” written in magic marker on a cassette shell.
Of course I grew up, learned of Tortoise’s place in the history of music, fell in love with Millions, TNT, Standards, etc., and grew to love this band for the incredible innovators that they are. But my mysterious introduction to the band has always stuck with me, and in a lot of ways, I attribute much of my musical upbringing to a chance encounter with this dubbed cassette.
All of this is to say: it’s an incredible honor to have Tortoise participate as the fourth installment of our “Almost Live” series. Few bands have shaped my musical mind as drastically as Tortoise. And now 23+ years into their existence, they remain one of the few bands making truly important music today.
For their session, Tortoise decided to perform “Shake Hands With Danger” — a track from their recently released album “The Catastrophist”. They knocked it out in one take. Enjoy.” — Karl Hofstetter