INCREDIBLE new release from Marc Wagnon (Tunnels)! Perhaps the best album his label Buckyball Records have released to date - and that is saying something since they have all of the Tunnels releases (Marc's band with Percy Jones!) and several great fusion CDs including the new release by Jake Hertzog. "Earth Is a Cruel Master" finds Wagnon in complete control playing everything except the guitars & bass himself, revealing that he is not only an incredible mallet player but also a first rate drummer! He contributes drums, vibraphone, marimba, percussion & keyboards. He is joined by the ever amazing Van Manakas on guitar and two bassists. Leo Traversa on electric bass (sounding a bit like Percy Jones at times!) and Danny Stone on acoustic bass. Of course all of the compositions are by Wagnon as well and they range from intricate written structures sometimes recalling Zappa's best work to loose framework pieces for soloing. Manakas contributes some mindblowing solos but the focus is on Wagnon's nimble and masterful use of vibes & marimba both in ensemble parts and in jaw-dropping solo sections that recall the best players you can think of! Absolutely essential for fans of great fusion, mallet percussion and fine jazz composition! Of course those who are already Tunnels fans shouldn't think twice either. I will conclude by saying that the drumming is also stunning and it is a great pity Wagnon can't find a way to plays drums and vibes simultaneously in Tunnels as he would be the perfect drummer for them as well!