Exposé Online banner

Stick Men with Gary Husband — Owari
(Moonjune MJR106, 2020, CD / 2LP / MC / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-02-10

Owari Cover art

It’s been about six months since the last time I reviewed a Stick Men live album, so we’re due for another, in this case Owari, recorded in Japan with guest Gary Husband on keyboards. The documented show took place on February 28, 2020, at what was supposed to be the beginning of an Asian tour for the group, but upon arriving in Japan, they were confronted with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, and plans started falling apart; that show happened on the last night before the Japanese government shut down all public performances, and dates in Hong Kong and China evaporated. Confronted with the prospect of only one date remaining, Owari represents a kind of Plan B. Normally, with a combination of musicians who have only just started playing together and had only minimal rehearsal time, you would want to record a live album later in the tour when everyone has gotten used to the new configuration. Robbed of that opportunity, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter, and Gary Husband had to rely on their years of experience with the music (for the core trio) and a combination of raw talent and more-or-less theoretical discussions (in the case of Husband). Given minimal preparation, these four stepped onto a stage in Nagoya and presented an amazing evening of music. Husband’s keyboards don’t just fill out the sound — at times he doubles a melody with a synthesizer or electric piano type sound, and at other times he produces colorful washes of fascinating sounds, both chordal and chaotic. The setlist includes the usual Stick Men combination of tunes for their studio albums, King Crimson classics, and improvisations, and there are no weak moments. “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part II” is outstanding with previously unexplored textures, and such Stick Men pieces as “Schattenhaft” are given energetic readings with extra special sauce courtesy of Husband. And the improvs are up to the usual high standards, with the added bonus of Husband’s keys. “Owari” is Japanese for “The End,” referring to the end of the tour, and Owari also stands as an impressive monument to the end of the band’s touring on Prog Noir, their last studio album, which dates from 2016. These extraordinary musicians have produced a truly impressive body of work, and it’s hard to imagine any other band touring four years without new studio material and keeping it interesting, but they’ve done it with flying colors. The end of one phase ushers in the beginning of the next phase, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be even better… Though Owari is going to be hard to top!


Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

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

More info
http://stickmen.bandcamp.com/album/owari

Latest news

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Gutbucket - A Modest Proposal – This (the band's fourth album) was the first I'd heard of Gutbucket, but it impressed me so that I immediately tracked down their second and third albums (Dry Humping the American Dream and Sludge...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues