Stick Men — Open
(7d Media 7D1313, 2012, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-04-01After 2011's Absalom, this is the second release by the Markus Reuter version of Stick Men, and it's a very different beast than that album. Rather than tightly composed, intimately rehearsed music, this is nearly a full hour of improvised sounds. Anyone who's caught the band at any of their live shows knows that improvisation is an integral part of their aesthetic, so it's good to have that documented on Open. It helps that they're all such skilled players who are acutely attuned to each other — it seems no matter how fiery the playing becomes, they manage to leave each other space to shine. The aural landscapes range from droning near-ambient overlapping loops to intense rhythmic workouts. For those who haven't seen the band live, there is some similarity to the kinds of textures found in later-period King Crimson improvisations (THRaKaTTaK). Aside from Pat Mastelotto's percussion, which is easily identifiable, the division of labor between Tony Levin and Markus Reuter is nearly impossible to deduce. While there are a few of the trademark Levinisms from time to time, most bits could be from either player. Of course, there are degrees of improvisation, and it's hard to tell how much planning went into these eight tracks, so I won't gush about telepathy. Suffice it to say that if you like the band's composed work, it's fairly likely this set will also appeal to you.
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
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
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
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
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