Tuatara — Breaking the Ethers
(Epic EK67908, 1997, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1997-10-01Tuatara's CD was one of those Tower Listening Station impulse purchases. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded so cool in the headphones I ended up taking it home. It starts out with a whirring bullroarer, followed by a melting pot of multicultural percussion, all recorded with a crystalline clarity that just jumps out at you. Then I got it home and listened to it a few more times, and realized that beneath the exotic sheen there's very little substance. It sounds like a bunch of rock musicians who are compulsive instrument collectors got together and started jamming. Which is of course exactly what happened. Their knowledge of world music is fairly broad (encompassing Africa, India, Latin America, and the Middle East) but shallow. If you played the same riffs on electric instruments, they would sound quite ordinary, as they use many common rock chord progressions, and (in spite of Peter Buck’s comment that he couldn’t count the time signatures) stick to 4/4 and 3/4 for the most part. Don't get me wrong — I actually enjoy the disc. It really does sound beautiful. The most remarkable thing about it, however, is not the music but the musicians. The driving forces behind Tuatara are Barrett Martin (of Screaming Trees), Justin Harwood (of Luna), and Skerik (of Critters Buggin), with appearances by Peter Buck (REM), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), and Mike McCready (Pearl Jam). Besides, I have a real weakness for bullroarers and Taos drums.
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more