TUATARA -- Breaking the Ethers (Epic)

When you combine the talents of drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), bassist Justin Harwood (Luna), guitarist Peter Buck (R.E.M.), and saxophonist Skerik Walton (Critters Buggin), it would appear that this is just another alterna-rock supergroup. However in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. Breaking the Ethers is not a rock album. It's an instrumental collection of tunes that borrow heavily upon the genres of jazz and world music. According to co-founder Martin, the members of Tuatara just wanted to try something different.

The last Screaming Trees album, Dust, had elements of world music on it, but nothing to this extent. The music on the CD ranges from funky jazz excursions to steel drum workouts and cool, atmospheric soundscapes. There are several highlights -- "Saturday Night Church" (with Los Lobos' Steve Berlin on bass penny whistle), "Dreamscape," and "Burning the Keys" are but a few. None of the musicians left their respective bands to work on this project. This was simply an opportunity for them to expand their horizons a bit.

Breaking the Ethers is an interesting CD, and will probably surprise a lot of people. World music fans will be the band's primary audience, but anyone with a musically open mind will probably enjoy it as well.

© 1997 Steve Marshall