It would be hard to find a more extreme shift from the rainy Emerald City in the Pacific Northwest to the desert southwest but that's where Barrett Martin found himself when he traded Seattle for New Mexico shortly after the turn of the century when Screaming Trees bid each other and their fans farewell.
The same can be said for the musical journey on which Martin embarked upon leaving the city. He traveled to the far corners of the world in pursuit of academic and spiritual learnings and turned the attention of his music from the heavy rock sounds and more towards jazz and the music he was absorbing from Africa and South America. That decade of self-imposed "exile" from rock and roll allowed him to write and record three solo albums — The Painted Desert, Earthspeaker, and Zenga — as well as continuing his collaboration with Peter Buck in their side project Tuatara. Martin also produced, drummed, and released Dave Carter's Commitment & Change through the label he founded, Fast Horse Recordings.
Martin says there were opportunities during that time to come out of rock and roll "retirement" and join other bands and he passed on them. He wasn't sure he had a desire to play rock music anymore and he knew he damn sure didn't want any part of the corrupt world of major labels and corporate promoters. A return to rock music would have to wait. It would have to be the right band and the right time. That band is Big High and the time is now.
There is something comfortably retro about Big High's sound. Fans hungry for a return to the sounds exported from Seattle in the early '90s will find something familiar in this record but Grunge Part II this is not. Big High is sonically more in tune with the pre-grunge sounds typical of Pacific Northwest bands, sounds that were swallowed up and lost in the enormity of the success of great bands like Screaming Trees, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. Big High has a sound that borrows from the heritage of the great Seattle bands as well as the roots from which those seminal bands drew.