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.
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
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
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
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