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Pat Mastelotto


Review by Grant Hill

This double CD compilation is an interesting and unique collage of multiple percussive styles given to a wide palette of genres and colors therein. The multiplicity of artists and their respective talents expressed in this release will have you enraptured in eclectic joy. There is one common element: Pat Mastelotto. That says a lot. It’s simply an incredibly forward looking collection of progressive rock sounds, borrowing from the broadest array of contemporary American and world music styles. Progressive rockers, please give this a spin, yourselves! You may be hearing the shape of the future. It’s great stuff, indeed!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1 Traps
Savage (Remix) by Steven Wilson

This combines intriguing, dark, legato Wilson vocals and guitar melodies with an expressive tribalesque feeling to Mastelotto’s tasty percussion background. Ambient textures weave through the piece. It’s a good open for this compilation!
Faster Than an Automatic Door by Naked Truth

The opening of the piece has the vibe of a late period Miles Davis creation, techno synth instrumentation and tasty jazz trumpet throughout. It’s very organic! Mastelotto’s dark shuffle beat derivations complement brilliantly. Heavy, dark chord interaction extends throughout.

Jacaranda by Ktu

Featuring touch guitars, this is upbeat, pop and progressive. I love the groove! A nice structure exists throughout the song and solid drumming drives the piece to the end.


Blackwell by Tuner

With Weather Report style chord changes are throughout, this is experimental evoking shades of mid-seventies fusion. Mastelotto’s drumming is so highly advanced on each of these pieces! Tension and relaxation are so well employed on each cut! An interesting vocal styling is felt on this one, too.


Queen (Phil Brown) by MPtu

This sounds like a Zappa progressive blues groove replete with similar lead and background vocals. It’s very cool! This would be a superb classic style crossover song.


Dig by Tuner

There’s nice tension at the opening. Active drumming sets the stage for the rhythmic crescendo and buildup as parts layer in over a repeating but quite interesting chord pattern. Spoken words and syncopated syllables add to the instrumental interplay. It includes interesting use of convention and experimentation.


Hands, part 1 by Stick Men

Ah, we are treated to Tony Levin’s brilliance! This is driven by Chapman Stick and touch guitars in a polyrhythmic dance woven with Mastelotto’s equally brilliant tasty interplay. There are nice mood changes, intense and full of colors of sound.


Alpha and Omega by Tovah

I was vaguely familiar with Tovah, but oh my, what a beautiful voice she has! I can only admire Mastelotto for being able to perform such a wide variety of styles. The song has a modern jazz meets R & B feel. Sultry and warm, there’s almost a Steely Dan or even Sade vibe. It’s nice work!


Kataklasm by Ktu
Hard and rocking, classic and proggy sounding, bottom range chords are played over by eighth note phrases on the keys. This has a very nice progression of ideas that develop and evolve in interesting ways. I love this track!
Green Manalishi/Fread (Green/Holdsworth) by MPTU
This has a superb classic rock backbeat sound! It includes great vocals and a hard rocking bottom sound. There’s a prog jazz bridge. Nice lyrical bass work runs underneath the guitar progression. This is a great cover!
This is a short interlude evoking capture by Klingon warriors. Seriously, what do you think?
Makes No Sense At All by Peter Kingsbury
Active percussive work is included here with a neo-reggae groove. Very interesting vocals evoke an almost Elvis Costello style groove. This includes nice woodwind and guitar phrasing. It is a very unique and creative pop song. It’s not my favorite track, but I wish all pop music tried new ideas like the ones here.
Melrose Ave by CG3+2

 I love the California Guitar Trio, and especially here with Mastelotto and Levin! If I were asked to give someone one song that would typify progressive music in the early twenty first century, this would be a great example. It’s fabulous in every way. The uniquely tuned CGT plus the classic perfect rhythm section is an aural delight.

7Teen by Mastica
Dark, balladic vocals play over rich low range harmonic structures. This is very mysterious, mid-tempo bossa nova influenced rock.
Optikus (Pohjonen) by KTU
Featuring multi layered rhythms and vocal speech sampled tracks, this is very techno sounding. It has Zawinulesque melody lines. Experimental and flowing in abstraction, the song reflects a multi-media commentary on modern culture.
Leviathan by Michael Bernier
Stick Men alum and Chapman Stick master Bernier explores the full musical range of the instrument in this short experimental piece.
Face (rough mix from upcoming release) by Tuner
Experimental and developmental throughout, the boundaries of rock and jazz are fused and pushed forward. Mastelotto’s characteristic diverse command of the traps truly shows off the great hybrid style in modern American drumming.
Escapeologist by Tovah
Stick rudiments lay on a hard surface against legato synth bass. Tovah’s expressive melody lines reflect good subtleties in dynamic control. Excellent stick work continues throughout. Mastelotto’s playing almost sounds like a drum corps snare line practice jam. Quite nifty, I like this song.
Pole by Tuner
Peter Kingsbury and Sirenee provide vocals. This is fine polyrhythmic futuristic rock. Tuner is one super creative act. Mastelotto lends a huge contribution here. I dig the controlled snare rolls. This is a powerful song.
Soup by Stick Men
There’s good use of rap verbalism. Overall this is ultra sophisticated neo funk jazz. It’s great work that should stand tall in the annals of musicology.
Ab Remix1 for Steven Wilson
I like the piano introduction. I think that Wilson and Mastelotto work extraordinarily well together. Wilson’s vocal range is effectively explored in this song. There’s excellent use of rhythmic tension. Counter-rhythms are intensely felt. This is an extraordinarily layered creation. Beautiful playing on all instruments is featured. The final minute morphs into aggressive drums and full block chord patterns, with traps reminiscent of Cobham’s work with Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Disc 2 Buttons
Adamantine by Bill Forth
Sounds and textures remind one of a mysterious place. Amphibious critter sounds set the stage for layer synths and punchy synth drum patterns. This is cool.
Fandangogo (Live) by Tu
Trey Gunn and Mastelotto are in uber-creative mode. Tribal, primal vocals and textures join layers that build sonorously. I really like the harmonic layers throughout and the excellent rhythmic underpinnings by both players.
Annunciation Of An Angel by Tunisia

With an urban jazz opening, this features a nice choice of instruments. It’s very ambient and great listening material. Spoken lyrical lines enter just past the halfway mark. This is introspective.

Nano by Ktu

Rhythmically powerful and melodically modal, this has many worldwide influences. It is pleasant and energizing to listen to, and this live version sells itself.

Abandoner Remix2 by Steven Wilson
The more I hear Steven Wilson, the more I think I hear those Pink Floyd types of introspections in relative abundance. Mastelotto is able to grasp those thoughts and place them in time with direction, energy, and emotive content. The piece is excellent, but would be far less so without Mastelotto’s attentive detail to glue the piece together. Again I get that Mahavishnu-ish ferocity on the frenetic ending.
Pomegranate by Stick Men
When I hear this song I think of dark jazz clubs and anyone who ever loved Miles Davis’ music through the dawning of the fusion era. That’s where it started then, but this is where it is now. This is derivative yet hugely creative. Very advanced work, this has a fabulous use of ambience to underscore melodic and rhythmic complexity. Bravo Stick Men!
Flinch by Tuner

I may start buying Tuner releases after reviewing this CD set. Everything I’ve heard from this artist is so very interesting. Seriously, if you enjoy Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, and Belew, then this may be for you! It’s complex yet sonorous with nothing overplayed or understated. I enjoy the listenable qualities of this song.


Parallax Distortion Cranial Wood Mash by BPM&M

Very experimental, more performance art than song, this piece explores complex quickly articulated rhythms and synthetic layers. This is interesting. Just don’t try to dance to it.

The Irresistible Blow Torch by BPM&M
Now, you can dance to this one! It features pretty groovy jazz hip-hop structures. There’s a good driving pulse and excellent percussion track elements (or buttons, if you will).
Dervish by Boddy/Reuter
I immediately like this. To me the chord structures call to mind Corea’s constructions from the nineties. I think the chosen sounds and layers fit well. It’s very deep musically, but enjoyable. The touch guitar melodic structures are interesting. It’s rather psychedelic and grooves well.
Angst by Boddy/Reuter

Darker and more psychological than the aforementioned offering, the title typifies the mood. Mastelotto’s stick work and kick drum highlight it.

Kill the Road by Samuel Hallkvist
With pulsing bass this features positive syncopated chords. There are interesting sound choices for punctuated syncopations. It’s ambient and playful. Foot tapping experimental pop progressivism, this is pretty slick!
Brutal Ecstasy With This Fuzzbox by BPM&M
Starting with slow tempo ambience, a techno jungle drum vibe, psychedelic guitar and bass enter to spoken word lyrics and R&B bass and drum groove. Mini-moog joins as the groove intensifies. With a spoken word echo, the song fades. There are some nice ideas here!
Side Window by Project X
Free drums and synth nicely develop. Odd interval to unique wave variations make it feel tuneful yet alien. It’s quite musical. Interesting musical phrase resolutions lead nicely to the next phrase in consecutive ideas. Mastoletto clearly develops his ideas while playing off the same. This is creative.
Sitting By The Bank by Tu
Russian audiences love artists from the King Crimson family! Gunn and Mastoletto are no exception as recipients of said affections. This song opens with Hindu style percussive sounds and dynamically expressive stringed legato playing. Rich sonorities exist in this live performance.
Hush by Mastica
Extremely active techno drums reveal Mastelotto’s always-progressing subtleties of playing. I like the clarinet(woodwind synth?) versus the bass line. This is mysterious and foreboding.
He Stood in the Rain by Quodia
Percussion beats and tracks paint an audio palette for spoken word poetry. The vocals are heavily processed. I might have personally preferred a warmer, more natural vocal, but the performance concept is good. This is quite an interesting piece of performance art blended with song poem that’s worthy of a listen.
Ex Uno Pluribus by BPM&M

Rich chords open an urban R&B jazz groove. It seems current yet futuristic. It features nice engineering. I like the presence of the guitar work. It's kind of funky in a psychedelic progressive groove.


Cracker Barrel by BPM&M
This song cooks from the instant it begins to a fast sixteenth note bass pattern, acid jazz drums, and psychedelic guitar work. The choice of patched samples work very well together. It sounds like a trip inside the mind of Mojo Jojo! I like this and will want to hear this one over a few times. I just wish it were longer.
The Use of Black by Tunisia
A funky rock groove sets the rhythm for techno synth funk bass. The keyboard mixes with the rhythm section remind me of Gorillaz meets Herbie Hancock, or something like that. A Belewesque guitar solo grabs my attention. There’s a nice percussion fill. The groove is growing on me as the song develops. The communication level is very high. Mastoletto reads the bassist well. This is excellent.
Sabre Dance by The Rad Dance project
There’s a cooking sixteenth note synth drum pattern over a morphing semi-repetitious synth bass and long atonal chord structures. It has good ambience development. Mastoletto keeps it cooking. It reminds me of the episode of “Lost in Space” where Dr. Smith falls in love with the green alien girl floating outside the spaceship window. That evocation aside, it’s another brilliantly musical metaphorical concoction for this compilation. Excellent work, Mr. Mastelotto!
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