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Stick Men

Deep

Review by Gary Hill
I really like Stick Men. Sometimes their music can be hard to describe, though. It’s never hard to take. If you dig Stick playing, you really need to pick this up. It should be no surprise that it sounds a lot like King Crimson. It’s really a captivating disc that covers some great territory.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Nude Ascending Staircase

A killer bass-type groove opens this and they take it out from there in fine fashion. This is funky and heavy and distorted and oh so tasty. They take this through a number of changes and alterations. It really must be compared to King Crimson because it does feel a lot like something that the group might have done. It’s powerful, electric and just plain rocks.

On/Off

There is a lot of melody and dramatic texture built into this rocker. It’s a bit more mainstream, but the swirling stick still keeps the flavor in-tact. They take it through a couple changes and it’s another strong cut.

Cusp

With pounding, stabbing bits of sound, this is definitely more along the strange side of things than the two openers. It’s no less cool, though. They take it through some particularly dramatic shifts and changes along the road.

Hide The Trees

The main section of this has more of that King Crimson meets an almost funky groove makes up the opening section here. There’s a more melodic movement that takes it after that, though, and those two concepts are alternated throughout the piece.

Crack In The Sky

Atmospheric sounds start things here. There are spoken vocals as this builds out in a steamy sultry way. A little after the one minute mark a meaty guitar line soars over the top as the cut gains a bit more “oomph.” This thing just oozes “cool,” though. This is definitely the most mainstream thing. It’s also got plenty of meat, though. It’s melodic and very accessible. It’s my favorite piece on the whole thing and a real work of art.

Horatio
This hard rocker is crunchier and definitely more “left field.” I’m reminded of Red era King Crimson, but with the stick emphasis added into for good effect.
Concussion

In keeping with the title, they purely pounds in here before moving out to more spacey, but still crunchy, explorations. This beast feels more free-form and experimental than anything else here.

Sepia
A sharp contrast, this is rubbery, melodic and pretty mellow stuff. Around the minute and a half mark it drops down to weird atmospheric space. It works back out in very free form almost symphonic stylings. A little after the seven minute mark it gets powered up a bit. There’s an almost jazzy feeling to it.
Whale Watch

Melodic and somewhat mellow tones open this and the cut builds out for a short time like that. Then it gets a heavier backdrop and the melodic jamming ensues over the top in fine fashion. While this is still in keeping with that stick/modern King Crimson vibe, it’s also got more of a mainstream progressive rock texture to it. There’s almost a Yes kind of building progression to it. Around the three minute mark, though, it drops down and we get a very heavy jam that ensues from there. It’s very much like a heavy metal King Crimson. Around the five and a half minute mark we’re taken to ambient space music. As this continues it evolves in rather freeform ways, getting very heavy for a time before settling back down to ambience. Then it works back out to the earlier melodic prog that was rather Yes-like. There’s another short foray into stranger territories before that prog section takes it to the closing.

 
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