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Stick Men - Absalom CD (album) cover

ABSALOM

Stick Men

 

Eclectic Prog

3.25 | 25 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars With their debut album "Soup" in 2010 the Stick Men positioned themselves as possible heirs to the now vacant throne of the Crimson King, but that claim may have been a little premature. In their second album (actually an EP) the mini-Crimson trio showed themselves to be more a respectable Second Division outfit, following Robert Fripp's classification system (the Second Division promises gainful employment for a hardworking professional musician, but with little impact on mass culture).

For their sophomore effort, stick man Michael Bernier (the one who wasn't Tony Levin or Pat Mastelotto) was replaced by fellow Discipline Label artist and Guitar Craft alumnus Markus Reuter, without any discernible impact on the group's eclectic sound. In general it's a heavier album, if somewhat less distinctive than the first one. The opening title track is an aggressive Crimsonesque rifferama, but beyond the punchier power chords is a degree of melodicism often lacking in the sometimes too academic KC soundworld.

As might be expected the trio shines brightest during the purely instrumental segments (the actual songs are less effective, if only because of the cognitive dissonance felt when not hearing Adrian Belew at the microphone). "Smudge" has its roots in the KC ProjecKt Four improvisation "Seizure", here transformed into a genuine tune, something Fripp and Company never quite managed to accomplish. And the album closer "Pomegranate" presents a vivid slice of techno-psychedelia that I wish had been extended beyond its modest five-plus minutes.

The whole thing is only 30-minutes long: maybe that's all the new music the trio had in them at the time. More likely the session was only intended to help assimilate the new guy into the band, with the real fruit of that labor expected to ripen later (see their aptly-titled 2012 album "Open", entirely improvised in the modern Crim manner). This and other Stick Men albums were self-released outside any record label influence, but also without any major label publicity, which may explain the band's lack of exposure on these pages, and elsewhere. But anyone interested in exploring the greater Crimson family tree will feel very secure on this branch.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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