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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Awesome: Teenager plays two guitars at the same time

Posted: 09 May 2014 11:20 PM PDT

The boy, Jason Kertson, really knows how to work those guitars.

Two years ago, Jason Kertson posted a video of himself playing a cover of Andy McKee's Drifting. He was only 15 then.

Drifting is a nice, chill-out instrumental track but what made Kertson's video interesting was the fact that he played the song with two guitars. McKee, an awesome finger-style guitar player, did the song with one (his 2006 video has close to 50 million views, BTW).

Kertson is now a singer/musician and was a contestant on last season's The Voice, which explains why his two-year-old video is now starting to get a lot of hits. — Melody L. Goh

A younger Jason Kertson showing off his excellent guitar-playing chops.

Keepers of the groove: Post-rock band Tortoise is coming to Malaysia

Posted: 08 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

With two drummers, Midi vibes, guitars and synths, Tortoise is hardly slowing down on the musical front.

Nine years is a long time for a return visit to this region. But the buzz surrounding American post rock stalwarts Tortoise, which last played nearby at the Mosaic Music Festival in Singapore in 2005, is as strong as ever as the five-piece outfit readies up an Asian tour next week. The trek includes shows in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Taiwan.

Tortoise has also included a first Malaysian concert stop with a much-anticipated night at Bentley Music Auditorium in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on May 14.

For certain, the demographic for Tortoise's fanbase has shifted a fair bit, considering it has a career and catalogue spanning 20 years. Despite the lack of a new album in five years, the band's various side projects – like Exploding Star Orchestra, Brokeback and Powerhouse Sound – have kept its fans satiated.

In 2012, younger fans got the opportunity catch up with the band's music when Tortoise's US label Thrill Jockey reissued on vinyl the band's self-titled LP, as well as releases like Standards, It's All Around You, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, TNT, and Beacons Of Ancestorship.

Unlike some of their peers in the post rock community, the Chicago, Illinois-based group has largely distanced itself from the four-chord soft-loud brigade. What you heard on jazz rock-based albums like Millions Now Living Will Never Die and TNT have had little to do with the more free-flowing releases like It's All Around You and Beacons Of Ancestorship.

Tortoise's diverse creative range has been its main draw, with fans kept guessing about its instrumental, composition-based rock/free jazz/electronic amalgamation of music.

"Obviously we have developed a lexicon of our own, but it's always interesting to see how we can push that in different directions," said John McEntire, the band's multi-instrumentalist/drummer, in an email interview.

"I agree, there is a 'core' sound (to Tortoise) somehow," he added. "I think we are very lucky in that all of us can bring a lot of different ideas to the table, and feel they can all be relevant."

The 44-year-old McEntire also revealed that this upcoming tour will set the stage for the introduction of new material. The band, as reported on its Facebook page last month, has done some recording work at its Soma Electronic Music Studios in Chicago.

"We are doing a lot of writing in the studio, especially with regard to the newer things. We are focusing more on keys and synth sounds, rather than (Midi) mallet percussion."

The new recordings are also linked to Tortoise's jazz-based adventures. In 2010, there was a concert series called Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz Presents Tortoise 2.0, which featured the band alongside jazz musicians like Ed Wilkerson, Greg Ward, Nicole Mitchell, Jim Baker and Fred Lonberg-Holm in a concert-length commission.

"We started by working on a bunch of material we had written a few years ago, which was a commission for a live show here in Chicago," shared McEntire, who also vastly enjoyed this series of shows driven by intellectual curiosity and contradictory sound worlds.

"This collaboration with the Jazz Institute of Chicago was a little open-ended in the sense that it allowed for a fair amount of improvisation."

McEntire said that the band – after this Asian tour – will be tweaking material from those sessions last month into a Tortoise record. "Now we are working on new ideas that everyone is bringing in, and seeing where that takes us, and how it relates to what we'd done earlier."

The band, completed by percussionist Dan Bitney, guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Doug McCombs and drummer John Herndon, is definitely revved up for its yet-untitled seventh record.

When comes to genres, McEntire believes that even basic rock formats have not quite exhausted their possibilities.

"There is plenty of stuff going on now that is totally mind blowing," said McEntire, who also lists New York band The Psychic Paramount, Finnish band Circle of Ouroborus and Australian act The Necks as some bands that have caught his attention recently.

Talking about the tour setlist ahead, McEntire assured the fans of a solid representation of its whole discography, but they should also expect some surprises.

"The shows will have material from almost, if not all, of the LPs we've done," he promised.

> Soundscape Records presents Tortoise at Bentley Music Auditorium, 4th Floor, Wisma Bentley Music, 3, Jalan PJU 7/2, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor on May 14. Showtime is 8pm. Pre-sale tickets cost RM118 (inclusive of handling fee). Tickets are available at participating Rock Corner outlets in the Klang Valley. For more info, visit


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