Spaceboy Music got the new Tortoise album, It’s All Around You, nearly two weeks ahead of its release date, so I did too. I like it, and I expect to like it more as I listen to it more, but there are no great departures from the oft-imitated Tortoise sound to report, and nothing noteworthy about this newest assemblage of ambling, polyrhythmic post-rock that wasn’t already made noteworthy on one of the band’s previous outings. That said, the album’s package design and the new Tortoise web site are fantastic.
The packaging is a full-color high-gloss digipak that defies the minimalism of the equally brilliant layouts of Tortoise albums past. The heavily saturated composite photo on the cover is all focal point, and arranged with the typography in such a way that there is no front or back, up or down. It truly is All Around You.
The new Tortoise web site is simple, clean, and elegant, with a wealth of information that is easy to navigate. An in-depth history of the band is finally available, as well as a comprehensive list of all the projects each member is involved in. Each section’s header is a different interactive Flash piece based on the band’s varied album art, and the sections’ colors follow suit, offering variety but still maintaining a cohesive uniformity. Hats off to the parties responsible at Candystations.
Meanwhile, in another hemisphere of the cultural map, I saw the new Dawn of the Dead last night and it was actually pretty enjoyable. George Romero’s distinctive vision of apocalypse culture survives reasonably intact, though the original film’s zombie/consumer subtext is abandoned, reducing the story’s shopping mall setting to a practical concern. Additionally, any interest given to characterization is purely utilitarian, generally more concerned with each character’s individual approach to destroying and/or becoming zombies than their particular humanity (and indeed, in this world, even the most helpless civilian is a sharpshooter). But while Romero’s version is clearly superior in all aspects, the remake is still a tight little action/horror flick. The wild, caffeinated nu-zombies bring a fresh immediacy to the undead dilemma (as they did in the impeccable 28 Days Later), and cameos by Dawn alumni Tom Savini and Ken Foree help keep it rooted in tradition.