Exposé Online banner

Stick Men+ — Midori
(Moonjune no#, 2015/2016, 2CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-05-17

Midori Cover art

Stick Men has been a very busy band of late, somehow managing to tour extensively in spite of the other work all three band members do outside the trio. Keeping track of all the different projects that Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Markus Reuter are involved in would almost be a full time job. This edition of Midori collects together both of the band’s sets from the 2015 stop in Tokyo, previously available only in Japan (the first set was also released through Iapetus). The special thing about these shows, aside from the general high quality of all Stick Men performances, is the added presence of David Cross on violin. It’s no surprise that the addition inspired them to include a number of King Crimson tunes in the set lists (which is not completely unheard of, to be fair). But the selection of which Crimson tunes to play is a surprise, as it includes some from times outside Cross’ tenure in the band, notably 80s era pieces like “Sartori in Tangier” and “Industry.” Another unexpected choice is “Breathless” from Robert Fripp’s Exposure album (though Levin played on the original). To wrap up the Crimson portion of the program, they take on “The Talking Drum,” “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part 2” and an adaptation called “Shades of Starless.” From the Stick Men catalog we get an arrangement of “Firebird Suite,” “Cusp,” “Crack in the Sky,” and “Hide the Trees.” The rest of the shows consisted of a number of improvisations and soundscapes, which show the real strengths of the band. In fact, the first set starts off with nearly 18 minutes of free-form music before launching into the first composition. This is a gutsy move, and the fact that it’s a riveting listen is the payoff for their boldness. If you’ve heard the kinds of improvs that Crimson was known for, these are along the same lines — sometimes amorphous rhythmically, sometimes building to brutal, jagged patterns. It’s pretty far removed from what many listeners might think of as a “jam.” No generic blues progression or one-chord vamping here. Listeners seeking coherent songs might be disappointed, but I consider this to be the true expression of their art. The “songs” on the album are representative of the group’s studio recordings — and for those unfamiliar with them, they fall roughly in the mold of instrumental King Crimson of the 90s vintage, though with more emphasis on atmospheric textures. With the exception of a spoken part on “Crack in the Sky,” there are no vocals. For those who never got into the 90s incarnation of KC, the spirit is in some ways more like the era that produced Larks’ Tongues and Red, especially with the participation of Cross. In short, Stick Men is one of the finest bands going today, and Midori shows them at their best.


Filed under: Reissues, 2016 releases, 2015 recordings

Related artist(s): David Cross, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter, Stick Men

More info
http://stickmen-moonjune.bandcamp.com/album/midori

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tim Hodgkinson - Each in Our Own Thoughts – Tim Hodgkinson, the keyboardist/sax-meister responsible for some of the most angular, complex, and free-structured music of the seventies (Henry Cow) and the eighties (The Work), has returned with a...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues