As far as indie rock supergroups go, the loosely defined instrumental band Tuatara may be considered one of the more unexpected ones.
The brainchild of former Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin -- who can also be heard on sessions with R.E.M., Queens of the Stone Age and Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers -- Tuatara began in 1996 with the intent of allowing Martin and some musician friends to explore soundtrack music. Luna bassist Justin Harwood, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and avant-jazz tenor saxophonist Skerik were among those also on board, and the debut album "Breaking the Ethers" was an evocative blend of globe-trotting percussion, atmospheric jazz and moody lounge-funk.
Pairing nicely with the genre-blind post-rock and acid jazz explorations of the late '90s underground (perhaps served with a faint air of Nag Champa), Tuatara's noirish sound continued to evolve over six albums, and drew a varied cast of collaborators that included DJ Spooky, Victoria Williams and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin.
After six years with members involved in other projects, the band has reconvened with the new double-album "Underworld," which evokes a similar spirit as Tuatara's adventurous early recordings with marimba, zig-zagging saxophone and thickets of drums shadowed by the occasional string swells or keyboard flourish. The group's penchant for guest appearances also remains intact with Buck, Gnarls Barkley bassist Cedric LeMoyne and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready also on board.
"Underworld" will be released on Tuesday, but you can stream the album in full here. It still doesn't sound like a movie anyone has made yet, but the year is still young.
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