Exposé Online banner

Stick Men+ — Midori
(Moonjune no#, 2015/2016, 2CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-05-17

Midori Cover art

Stick Men has been a very busy band of late, somehow managing to tour extensively in spite of the other work all three band members do outside the trio. Keeping track of all the different projects that Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Markus Reuter are involved in would almost be a full time job. This edition of Midori collects together both of the band’s sets from the 2015 stop in Tokyo, previously available only in Japan (the first set was also released through Iapetus). The special thing about these shows, aside from the general high quality of all Stick Men performances, is the added presence of David Cross on violin. It’s no surprise that the addition inspired them to include a number of King Crimson tunes in the set lists (which is not completely unheard of, to be fair). But the selection of which Crimson tunes to play is a surprise, as it includes some from times outside Cross’ tenure in the band, notably 80s era pieces like “Sartori in Tangier” and “Industry.” Another unexpected choice is “Breathless” from Robert Fripp’s Exposure album (though Levin played on the original). To wrap up the Crimson portion of the program, they take on “The Talking Drum,” “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part 2” and an adaptation called “Shades of Starless.” From the Stick Men catalog we get an arrangement of “Firebird Suite,” “Cusp,” “Crack in the Sky,” and “Hide the Trees.” The rest of the shows consisted of a number of improvisations and soundscapes, which show the real strengths of the band. In fact, the first set starts off with nearly 18 minutes of free-form music before launching into the first composition. This is a gutsy move, and the fact that it’s a riveting listen is the payoff for their boldness. If you’ve heard the kinds of improvs that Crimson was known for, these are along the same lines — sometimes amorphous rhythmically, sometimes building to brutal, jagged patterns. It’s pretty far removed from what many listeners might think of as a “jam.” No generic blues progression or one-chord vamping here. Listeners seeking coherent songs might be disappointed, but I consider this to be the true expression of their art. The “songs” on the album are representative of the group’s studio recordings — and for those unfamiliar with them, they fall roughly in the mold of instrumental King Crimson of the 90s vintage, though with more emphasis on atmospheric textures. With the exception of a spoken part on “Crack in the Sky,” there are no vocals. For those who never got into the 90s incarnation of KC, the spirit is in some ways more like the era that produced Larks’ Tongues and Red, especially with the participation of Cross. In short, Stick Men is one of the finest bands going today, and Midori shows them at their best.


Filed under: Reissues, 2016 releases, 2015 recordings

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

More info
http://stickmen-moonjune.bandcamp.com/album/midori

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Providence - There Once Was a Night of "Choko-muro" the Paradise – Some may recall the first, very highly regarded Providence CD And I'll Recite an Old Myth... from around 1990. At that point they had already released a couple cassettes, two videos, and appeared on...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues