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tortoise

tortoise (tôr´təs), common name for a terrestrial turtle, especially one of the family Testudinidae. Tortoises inhabit warm regions of all continents except Australia. They have club-shaped feet with reduced toes adapted for walking on land, and nearly all have high-domed shells. The limbs are covered with hard scales and when the limbs and head are withdrawn into the shell, the animal is completely closed off.

The most famous tortoises are the giant tortoises of islands in the Indian Ocean (Aldabrachelys gigantea) and of the Galápagos Islands (classified as either Chelonoidis nigra subspecies or Chelonoidis species). Galapagos tortoises may reach a length of over 4 ft (120 cm) and weigh over 500 lb (225 kg). There are about a dozen races of the Galapagos tortoise, most of them isolated on separate islands. These tortoises were a major source of meat for sailors in the 17th and 18th cent. and were often slaughtered wantonly. Once so abundant that the islands were named for them (galápago is Spanish for tortoise), they became extinct on some islands and were endangered on most of the others. The tortoises are now protected by law, and scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station have bred some 2,000 and set free the different subspecies on the islands from which they came.

North American tortoises, genus Gopherus, are burrowing forms with flattened feet and heavy nails. Three of the four species are very similar. The desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, inhabits deserts from S Nevada to NW Mexico; the Texas tortoise, G. berlandieri, lives in arid brush country and open woods from S Texas to NE Mexico; the gopher tortoise, G. polyphemus, is found in high, sandy areas of Florida and the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts. The desert and gopher tortoises reach a length of 13 in. (33 cm), while the Texas tortoise is about 81/2 in. (21.6 cm) long. The Bolson, or Mexican giant, tortoise, G. flavomarginatus, is a large species of NW Mexico. It has been much used for food, and the survival of the species is threatened.

Tortoises are extremely long-lived; there are authenticated cases of individuals living over 150 years. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Chelonia, family Testudinidae.

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tortoise

tortoise Terrestrial or freshwater reptile of the order Chelonia. They live in tropical and subtropical regions, and hibernate in temperate countries. All tortoises are heavily armoured and enclosed within a high, domed, bony, box-like structure called a carapace (commonly shell). When disturbed, tortoises pull their scaly legs, head and tail into the shelter of the shell. They are slow movers, feed almost entirely on plants, and live to a great age. Length: usually to 30cm (1ft). A giant species, up to 1.9m (5ft) long, lives in the Galápagos Islands.See also turtle

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tortoise

tor·toise / ˈtôrtəs/ • n. 1. a turtle, typically a herbivorous one that lives on land. ∎ inf. anything exceptionally slow-moving: you are a tortoise on the uptake today. 2. another term for testudo. DERIVATIVES: tor·toise·like / -ˌlīk/ adj. & adv.

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"tortoise." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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tortoise

tortoise the tortoise is taken (as in the story of the hare and the tortoise) as the type of something which moves slowly and laboriously, but with determination.

According to an anecdote, the Greek dramatist Aeschylus was killed when an eagle dropped a tortoise on to his bald head.

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tortoise

tortoise XV. The earliest exx. show a variety of forms reflecting medL. tortūca, (O)F. tortue, and (occas.) Sp. tortuga; the present form (of obscure orig.) appears in XVI.

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Tortoise

Tortoise

Instrumental Post-rock group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Ask anyone to describe the music of Tortoise, and you will probably receive a variety of responses. Modern classical, dub, dance, cut n splice, avantgarde, cinematic, progressive rock, and jazz represent some of the terms often applied to this instrumental group from Chicago, Illinois. Nonetheless, Tortoise owe a large debt to traditional rock, though they scrap the common verse-chorus-verse template. Rather than relying upon rocks confining guitar-bass-drums formula and the use of vocals, Tortoise instead sought something new. As one of the leading bands specializing in post-rock, a movement wherein rock is stripped to its bare form, Tortoise concern themselves primarily with spatial organization, sonic musical textures, and intelligent songwriting.

The groupnow comprised of John McEntire (drums, keyboards, marimba, and drum programming), Doug McCombs (bass and lap steel guitar), John Herndon (drums, vibes, keyboards, and drum programming), Jeff Parker (guitar, vibes, keyboards), and Dan Bitney (drums, hand percussion, guitar, keyboards, and drum programming)achieved their expansive sound by embracing both a studio aesthetic and an unorthodox lineup. And as opposed to so many acts, each member of Tortoise participates in the songwriting process.The one thing we never do is have somebody come in with a finished song, McEntire explained to Marc Weingarten in Rolling Stone. We all try to expand the arrangements as much as possible to see how many voices we can bring into the fold.

Tortoises roots date back to 1990, when McCombs and Herndon began experimenting with assorted rhythm-section strategies and production techniques during breaks from other commitments. At the time, McCombs played with the group Eleventh Day Dream, while Herndon, a former member of Precious Wax Drippings, worked with the Poster Children. Initially, the pair adopted the moniker Mosquito and held jam sessions with no mapped plan about how they wanted to sound.

When Johnny (Herndon) and I first started as Mosquito, it was just because he and I wanted to do something together, said McCombs in an interview with Magnet magazines Fred Mills. It s turned out to be a natural progressionnot concrete turning pointsof just working together and knowing more and more as we go along how each one of us are going to react, what contributions each will make, what to expect. At the same time, were always trying to challenge ourselves and go beyond those expectations. We use Tortoise as a vehicle to explore some of the things were interested in.

This vision for Tortoise started to take shape with the addition of McEntire and guitarist/bassist Bundy K. Brown, both members of the group Gastr del Sol, and Bitney, formerly of the Tar Babies. In addition to providing more instrumentation for the group, these recruits brought with them studio experience. Fully embracing the studio-as-instrument concept, as well as non-linear dynamics and stunted rhythms inspired by the band Slint, the quintet recorded a handful of singles as both Mosquito and Tortoise for the Torsion and Thrill Jockey labels during 1993 and 1994. That same year also saw the release of Tortoises self-titled debut LP, which generated little attention.

But the groups 1995 follow-up, Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters, revealed something far more exciting and original. A collection of remixed songs from Tortoise created by the likes of Steve Albini, Brad Wood, Jim ORourke, Tortoises sound engineer Casey Rice, and members of Tortoise themselves, the album pulsated throughout with heavy bass beats and a variety of urban sounds. It was this dusty grit, concluded Peter Shapiro for Rock: The Rough Guide, that transcended the occasionally scary echoes of prog-rock into which their rampantly intellectual approach inevitably sinks.

In the midst of establishing themselves among rock critics, the members of Tortoise regularly participated in a long list of side endeavors, including work with the Sea And Cake, Red Krayola, 5ive Style, Uptighty, and the For Carnation. McEntire and Brown, in particular, now sought after by other groups for their studio expertise, took on several engineering gigs. Some of the bands that McEntire worked with during this time included Stereolab and Trans Am, and Brown forged a relationship with the group Rex.

Despite their heavy schedules, Tortoise continued to perform frequently in Chicago and in 1996 released

For the Record

Members includeDan Bitney, drums, hand percussion, guitar, keyboards, drum programming;Bundy K. Brown (left band 1996), guitar, bass;John Herndon, drums, vibes, keyboards, drum programming;Doug McCombs, bass, lap steel guitar;John McEntire, drums, keyboards, marimba, drum programming;Dave Pajo (joined band 1996) bass;Jeff Parker (joined band 1997), guitar, vibes, keyboards.

Formed band in Chicago, IL, 1990; released self-titled debut, 1994; released the acclaimed Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters, 1995; released Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1996; released TNT, considered their most ambitious and cohesive album, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Thrill Jockey Records, P.O. Box 476794, Chicago, IL 60647, phone: (312) 455-0310, fax: (312) 455-0319, e-mail:info@thrilljockey.com.

their second proper album, Millions Now Living Will Never Die.Prior to its recording, however, Brown, preferring his studio gigs to touring, decided to leave, and bassist Dave Pajoa member of Slint, For Carnation, and King Kongstepped in as a temporary replacement. The highlight from Millions was arguably the stylistically twisting, 21-minute Djed, which became a club favorite. Overall, the album, supported by tours across Europe, North America, and Japan, earned favorable press, even though reviewers seemed confused trying to find a specific label for Tortoises music.

As Tortoise settled down to make a new album, they enlisted guitarist Jeff Parker of Isotope 217 and New Horizons Ensemble. The resulting TNT, released in 1998, proved to be Tortoises most cohesive and satisfying release to date. Noteworthy tracks included the romantic Hillside, the lap-steel and synth-laden In Sarah, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven, and the bass and groove number The Equator.

Brown, who remained close to the band after his departure, offered the following perspective on TNT: I really feel like its the most accurate realization of the vision of Tortoise that has ever happened, he said, as quoted by Mills. I mean, that is the paradigm of what Tortoise is about. In a way, I wonder how it will be received, how there could be tens of thousands of people who might be interested in Tortoise, whose music, I think, takes a fairly refined sense of taste. Just from a purely academic standpoint of what Tortoise is doing, there is a certain degree of surface appeal to it. But underneath the surface, the technical difficulty of what theyre doing and the way they put it together is really quite intense.

Spending most of 1998 on another ambitious tour across Europe, the United States, and Japan, Tortoise focused on local performances and other projects thereafter. McCombs, for one, continued to play with Eleventh Day Dream, played solo gigs, issued singles under the name Broke Back, and became an occasional member of the Boxhead Ensemble; McEntire played with the Sea And Cake; Bitney started collaborating with rap artists; and Parker, Herndon and Bitney played with the six-piece jazz ensemble Isotope 217.

In 2000, they completed their Standards album, to be released in 2001. And after trying out new compositions on audiences in Chicago and receiving a warm reception, Tortoise appeared poised to maintain their reputation. Although their songs will probably never find acceptance within the mainstream, the member of Tortoise themselves view their career as fulfilling, both personally and artistically. I think Tortoise has been really satisfying for all of us in that weve been able to accomplish certain things that we set out to do, that by our own measures were fairly successful at it, McCombs told Mills. It all kind of turns around and feeds on itself. Were all really sincere at what we do; we dont have any of the extraneous reasons, like the search for fame or wealth. Even if you were looking for something like that, you know how rare it is when it happens.

Selected discography

Singles

Mosquito, Torsion, 1993.

Lonesome Sound, Thrill Jockey, 1994.

Why We Fight, Soul Static Sound, 1995.

Gamera, Duophonic, 1995.

Djed, Thrill Jockey, 1996.

The Taut And Tame, Thrill Jockey, 1996.

EPs

Music For Workgroups, Thrill Jockey, 1996.

Rivers, Thrill Jockey, 1996.

Albums

Tortoise, Thrill Jockey, 1994.

Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters, Thrill Jockey, 1995.

Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Thrill Jockey, 1996.

A Digest Compendium, Thrill Jockey (Japan), 1996.

Remixed, Thrill Jockey (Japan), 1996.

TNT, Thrill Jockey, 1998.

Compilations

A Means To An End, Virgin, 1995.

Marco Dub Infection Vol. 2, Virgin (U.K.), 1996.

Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation CD, Touch And Go, 1996.

Headz 2, MoWax, 1996.

Offbeat: A Red Hot Sound Trip, Wax Trax!, 1996.

Sources

Books

Buckley, Jonathan and others, editors, Rock: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides Ltd., 1999.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1998; January 8, 2000.

Magnet, March/April 1998.

Melody Maker, December 13, 1997; March 28, 1998; April 18, 1998; August 1, 1998.

Rolling Stone, December 14, 1995.

Washington Post, April 8, 1998.

Laura Hightower

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tortoise

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