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

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Runaway Totem - Trimegisto – This was a new release on independent vinyl just two years ago, in fact we covered this in part two of our 'New Italian Rock' series in issue #3. Last year Black Widow reissued it as a CD with...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues