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Stick Men

Open

Review by Gary Hill

Anyone who has heard anything from Stick men will know what to expect here. This is quite experimental music that has ties to King Crimson and also tends towards atmospheric sounds. These guys always deliver quality and always manage to thrill, while keeping a sound that’s true to their roots and identity. You really can’t go wrong with Stick Men and this is a classic example of that fact.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Amino 21

The first two and a half or so minutes of this are made up of atmospheric sounds that are somewhat classical in nature. It’s not restful or easy listening, though. There’s a real sense of menace and danger lurking. After that it builds out into some harder rocking sounds that are much like King Crimson with a real crunchy edge. It’s still quite freeform and runs through a number of changes and alterations.

Open Pt.1 - Plunge

This piece starts with a cool rhythmic groove. Noisier elements are heard over the top as it continues. This one’s not extremely long or dynamic, but it’s very cool.

Alabaster

An extended piece, this is mellow and somewhat classical in nature as it starts. It builds out from there gradually. It’s all about the atmosphere really and all changes and growth happen subtly and slowly. That said, it’s a cool piece of music.

Open Pt. 2 - Plow

A rubbery rhythm section opens this and holds it for a time. Then it drops way down before moving back out into a different energetic jam. This rocks out more than a lot of the disc and has some cool sounds and textures in the process.

Cyber Shards

I really love the classic Tony Levin “bass” line on this thing. It’s so rubbery and just oozes cool. The track builds up nicely into something that’s heavy and yet has a lot of soul and groove. It’s got its noisy moments and is a real killer. As this keeps changing, there are some moments where I really think some of the stuff Levin is playing is very similar to some parts he did on the Bruford Levin Upper Extremities album.

Open Pt. 3 - Truncheon

The percussion is certainly one of the driving factors here, but the wailing over the top of the tune is also great. The whole piece is among the highlights of the set.

Glass Heart (for Renée)

While there are more rocking moments to this one, it seems more atmospheric and freeform than some of the other stuff here. There’s a real spacey element to it a lot of the time.

Time Capsule
In a lot of ways this piece does a great job of encapsulating the various sounds of the set. It feels pretty free form and has lot of atmospheric sections, yet it also turns out to harder rocking music at times and each musician seems to get a chance to show his talent. It’s one of the strongest cuts on show here. It’s also a great way to end things in style.
 
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