Exposé Online banner

Stick Men — Prog Noir
(Unsung SMN1611, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-10-02

Prog Noir Cover art

From their beginning, Stick Men have included occasional vocal tracks in their repertoire, though they have always been fewer in number than the purely instrumental pieces, and completely absent on several albums. With Prog Noir, Stick Men highlight the vocal side more than ever before, with nearly half of the tracks including vocals, either spoken or sung, with or without lyrics, and both Tony Levin and Markus Reuter chipping in. Another quality of the band that is maybe overlooked is their sense of humor. It’s always been there — think back to “Soup” — but with all of the eerie soundscapes and jagged rhythms they churn out, the humor can be missed. It’s represented here in a number of ways. “Plutonium” is the most obvious example, with its observations about the plight of Pluto and numerous musical quotations. The basic music style continues the band’s trend, with Levn’s inimitable bass lines, Reuter’s expansive washes of tones, and Mastelotto’s hybrid acoustic / electronic percussion. There are odd meters and dissonances, but they’re not fetishized, merely a part of the mix. With both Levin and Reuter playing touched-string instruments, the who-played-what of it is often unclear, and certainly it often sounds like a much larger band than just a trio. But part of the appeal of this band is the collective integration, the way they work together to produce the music, whether it’s the sensitive (but somewhat unusual) backing to the beautiful melodies of “A Rose in the Desert / Requiem” or the organically shifting rhythms of “Leonardo.” The main takeaway is that while Prog Noir is still rooted in some of the innovations of King Crimson, Stick Men have added plenty of their own elements to the music, and the result is one of the year’s highlights.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

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

More info
http://stickmen.bandcamp.com/album/prog-noir

Latest news

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Howe's Remedy - Live – The live DVD documenting Howe's touring band featuring two of his talented sons is a testament to the guitarist's artistry and identity. Howe had hinted many times in the past how much he would like...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues