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

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Poor Richard - Knees, Reins & Feet – As the debate over the meaning of the word "progressive" (as it applies to rock music) continues, the loosest interpretations generally define it as anything that eschews the mainstream...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues