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Album Review

After an amorphous couple of records, Tuatara seems to have found its true voice as a soundtrack band. Essentially, soundtrack music is what Cinemathique is all about, albeit of a very high quality, so smoothly written and performed that you often don't notice the depth of what's happening underneath — and that's a compliment. For what's really a supergroup, the bandmembers hide their personalities under a barrel, or perhaps behind the chameleon qualities of the music itself, which can shift from Third-era Soft Machine on "Love Is a Calculated Risk" to the John Barry-esque "A Thin Gray Pickpocket," to the romance of "Farewell to the Hero." Barrett Martin is a subtle powerhouse of percussion throughout, while everyone else layers slickly on top of him to create music that would seem perfectly at home in a Hollywood film or even a '70s cop show ("Action Thriller"). It's the fact that each piece transmits its mood so well that makes this a success, from the gamelan opening of "The Melting Sun" to the lush ambience of the misleadingly titled "Falling Pianos." So yes, it has Martin, Peter Buck, and other illustrious (and unknown) names, but they're not the point. In this instance, it's the music that does the talking. And with Cinemathique, one (aural) picture is worth a thousand words.


Formed: 1996

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Tuatara is one of the more surprising and slightly ridiculous supergroups in rock history. Comprised of Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Justin Harwood (Luna), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), and Skerik (Critters Buggin'), the quartet formed in 1996 to pursue music that their guitar-based alternative rock groups could not do -- namely, worldbeat, lounge-pop, and free jazz. After playing several concerts on the West Coast of the U.S. in the fall of 1996, Tuatara recorded their debut album, Breaking the Ethers,...
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Cinemathique, Tuatara
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