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Stick Men — Tentacles
(Moonjune MJR, 2022, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-07-28

Tentacles Cover art

Hard to believe (or maybe it isn’t) that it’s been six years since the last studio recording by Stick Men, the outstanding Prog Noir. In the intervening years, they’ve toured extensively and released four live albums, one of which was a five CD box. Their skills as musicians and especially improvisors has made such a stream of recordings possible, and there are fans around the world who have eagerly snapped up every one of them. While it’s been great to see the band play live a number of times, their schedule hasn’t allowed time to properly record any new material until now. Tentacles is a set of five new tunes totalling just about a half hour of music. It is quite possible at this point that I am incapable of being objective about Stick Men — their music hits the perfect balance of technique and emotional intensity to draw me in, and Tentacles doesn’t let me down. For those who have just arrived on Earth from some planet where Stick Men haven’t toured or released any recordings, Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, and Pat Mastelotto build on ideas originated by King Crimson from the 70s to the 90s and take them into unique new territory. Mastelotto’s inventive drumming is supplemented rhythmically by tapping instruments, which provide chords, bass lines, melodies, interlocking motifs, and atmospheric washes. Vocals appear occasionally, but are rarely the focus. The arrangements span the full spectrum from meticulously rehearsed to free improvisation, and the musicians’ incredible sensitivity to each other is readily apparent, as is their good-natured and clever humor. Suffice it to say that Stick Men have not let me down, and this is a fine appetizer for what is hopefully a full meal to come.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

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

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