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Stick Men

Eclectic Prog

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Stick Men Soup album cover
3.78 | 114 ratings | 7 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Soup (5:44)
2. Hands, Pt. 1 (3:06)
3. Hands, Pt. 2 (3:33)
4. Hands, Pt. 3 (2:06)
5. Inside the Red Pyramid (4:45)
6. Fugue (5:49)
7. Sasquatch (5:43)
8. Scarlet Wheel (5:19)
9. Firebird Suite, Pt. 1 (2:55)
10. Firebird Suite, Pt. 2 (4:11)
11. Firebird Suite, Pt. 3 (3:12)
12. Firebird Suite, Pt. 4 (3:03)
13. Relentless (6:00)

Total Time 55:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Levin / Chapman Stick, vocals
- Michael Bernier / Chapman Stick, vocals, drums
- Pat Mastelotto / drums, digital devices

Releases information

CD Stick Men Records ASIN: B003PK7PI2 (USA, 2010)

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy STICK MEN Soup Music

STICK MEN Soup ratings distribution

(114 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STICK MEN Soup reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gooner
4 stars I caught the Stick Men on tour at the Magic Bag in Ferndale, Michigan not knowing what they sounded like. I figured it would be Crimson-like, but was surprised that it was much more. Not only can these guys out-Crim the Crim(at least post-Vrooom), but they can really out-fusion the best of fusion bands; or at least stand tall next to them. Catch them live if you can. The good news is that the Stick Men capture all that energy from their live show on this _Soup_ disc. I rate this as good as the 3 albums King Crimson put out in the '80s. It's a mixture of Crimso-like rock on the opener _Soup_ but a little more funk thrown into the mixture with some oddball lyrics not unlike something from a Zappa or Max Webster album. _Hands_ is very technical, so much so that Tony Levin needs a break after performing it live. More time signatures in that one than a Gentle Giant jamfest at a GORGG gathering. Worth the price of this CD is the instant prog.classic _Sasquatch_(sounds nothing like the one by Camel which shares the same name, but quite memorable). Another highlight is _Scarlet Wheel_ with amazing vocals by Michael Bernier. Quality vocals a la Adrian Belew/John Wetton at their best. Can't recommend this CD enough. The best I've heard so far in 2010...and a real burner near the end with a version of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The Stick Men have been touring this material for quite a while. It shows as I rate this an instant prog.rock classic. A new album that actually sparked my interest to write a review. It's a great thing that the serious listener is about to discover a world class Chapman stick player in Michael Bernier. Of course, we've got Tony Levin on here(some of his best work in a band setting which might explain why he didn't put it under his own name). I also think this is some of Pat Mastelotto's best work on the drum kit. The best part about seeing this performed live is that the band is really enjoying themselves. Run to buy this one, folks!
Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Aah, why this must be starting with track full of rapping (and some kind of hip-hop rhythm in between), eponymous Soup ? Except this (for me and I suppose that many others) flaw, it's fine mix of atmospheric/electronic sounds and guitar solos. Hands reminds me a little bit of King Crimson melodies together with Beardfish harmonies, of course, sounding often very different (similar to Steam by Peter Gabriel sometimes), but this is the best characteristic I can give. Inside the Red Pyramid explores Oriental melodies in quite clever way. Scarlet Wheel may sound like Pop song at first, but it's more in this song than that, it's way better. The Firebird Suite is spectacular, slowly moving towards big climax. Yep, I like the last part most.

4(+), solid four plus.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars New project by ex-KC Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto. Similar collaborations exists under the name of TU or KTU, as well as on Tony Levin solo releases. Third project member is Stick guitarist, drummer and vocalist Michael Bernier.

All musicians are capable to play interesting experimental music in moments, so I am trying to catch every their release. What doesn't mean all they are very good.

So, we have there on this album what you can expect from such trio - angular complex Stick music, mostly instrumental, but with few vocals in some places. The sound is quite predictable, really more complex and experimental than on many Levin solo albums (but often you can hear some pop-elements there coming directly from Levin solo works), but hardly very different from TU releases (on KTU accordion sound besides of Levin/Mastelotto pair is excellent component to make music much more attractive).Trey Gunn on TU is really better guitarist and composer though, so almost all the time TU wins comparing with Stick Men.

If you're a heavy Stick sound fan, or - if you never heard Stick sound, this album really will attract you. Few Crimsonian pieces, many guitar solos, complex but accessible rhythms, good vocals (in KC style again). But if you know King Crimson legacy, are familiar with Projekts, Levin, Trey Gunn, TU/KTU music, you will easily realize you have just one more version of the same formula there. Stick's sound is interesting, musicians all are professionals, but - where is the music? I missed compositions on this recordings - all songs are more improvs/rehearsals, using original , but far not experimental techniques anymore.

It was the time, when just sound of Stick, especially played by instrument masters, was attractive itself. But - this time is gone long ago, so it's not enough just to record Stick possibilities demonstration album to be original and interesting. It's a bit pity, but this release doesn't add any new moments to Stick-based music legacy.

Still quite good album, but to be a real great one it lacks Frippian concept and composition abilities.No way could be compared with Levin/Mastelotto works with King Crimson.

Interesting,but not essential release for KC fans,Stick maniacs and just lovers of good modern instrumental prog.

My rating is 3,5,rounded to 4.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A real surprise! I guess I was expecting something with a harder edge; something with not much variety, melody, or accessibility; a lot of technical show and monotonous sound. But, NO!! It's not. There is plenty of melody! There is variety! There is beauty! There are plenty of interesting sounds and lyrics. And, of course, there is also the technical wizardry and compositional complexity galore one might expect from Tony Levin and ... anyone he chooses to sidle up with. While I love the Crimson-esque (Adrian Belew-era) sound/feel of "Soup," "Hands," "Sasquatch," "Firebird Suite," and "Relentless," I love more the un-Crimson sound of "Inside the Red Pyramid," "Fuque," Sasquatch," "Scarlet Wheel, and "Firebird Suite" parts 3 & 4. Great disc! ANd not just for lovers of King Crimson, Tony Levin, or Chapman stick. This is a great prog album. Excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. Solid four stars!
Review by Neu!mann
4 stars I'm surprised this KING CRIMSON satellite effort didn't turn up on the ProgArchives best-of- the-year polls for 2010, but it may have just suffered from underexposure. Even now, three years later, the band has attracted only four written reviews for their entire recorded output, somewhat inexplicably considering their collective pedigree (all of those reviews were about this debut album, by the way).

It couldn't be the music itself, could it? The Chapman Stick is an incredibly versatile instrument in the hands of a real pro, and Tony Levin has long been its busiest ambassador. But this is more than just a studio demo disc: there's real scope here, beyond the unimpeachable chops. The band crams a lot of variety into 55-minutes, from delicate Guitar Craft pointillism to Canterbury jamming; from ghostly Frippian soundscapes to gut-thumping techno-funk; from Neo Prog pomposity to lush symphonic pop, and so on. All of it tied neatly together with a dynamic back-beat, hardly unexpected from Pat Mastelotto: the Tasmanian Devil of modern drumming.

The spirit of King Crimson is never too far away, but this is a trio with its own distinctive voice. And, perhaps because all three players are American, the performances are more relaxed and looser (if no less intense) than in their parent group, with a welcome touch of humor atop the considerable instrumental energy. The comic power-rap of the title track may turn off some listeners, but try to imagine Mr. Fripp applying his OCD virtuosity to such infectious nonsense.

Compare that to the climactic four-part "Firebird Suite", a cover of the same Stravinsky chestnut that used to accompany YES concert walk-ons. This sort of throwback Classical Rock was supposed to have been extinct decades ago, but the Stick Men update is no anachronism (it helps that they chose a piece that was still contemporary exactly one- hundred years after its 1910 Paris debut). The final movement lacks the majesty of the full orchestral original, but the arrangement is surprisingly effective considering it required only a pair of guitarists and a single drummer.

The Crimson King may be forever dormant now, but his throne is up for grabs by kindred groups like Stick Men. Maybe that responsibility is a little beyond their grasp: heavy lies the head that wears the crown, so forth. But with a little more ambition they could certainly try it on for size.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. My first experience with this band was their "Prog Noir" album which promptly blew me away with that muscular, complex and heavy sound. A trio who take their inspiration from KING CRIMSON, in fact two KC members are part of this trio in Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto. The other member is Michael Bernier who adds Chapman stick, drums and vocals. Michael would leave after this album and Markus Reuter would replace him. It's not shown on this site but they have a self titled debut from 2009 and "Soup" is the followup from 2010. These guys have released a lot of live albums but most aren't physical releases but downloads.

Man there is so many highlights on here. Love the opener and that's what I noticed about this second release compared to later albums is that here we get a lot more vocals. And it works! That is heard right away on the funny opener called "Soup". He almost raps here, and he has an attitude and it's funny. We then get the three part tune called "Hands" which might have something to do with Bernier and Levin playing Sticks. This is uptempo and complex with so much going on. The heaviness will come and go. Vocals and it turns catchy in part 2 while the third part is more like the first. The opener is a top three so is "Scarlet Wheel" the only real straight up vocal track where he really sings. Plenty of atmosphere and percussion. The closer "Relentless" rounds out my top three. Check out the bass to start and that crisp drumming that joins in. So good. It turns heavier and we get a calm late. "Fugue" is really cool too with that Jazz Fusion flavour plus it sounds like electronics and distortion. Nasty suff!

I'm bumping this up to 5 stars because I'm such a fan of this KING CRIMSON style.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The Fire stick This is one of the highlights here: an adaptation in about 15 minutes long, to the Firebird suite by Stravinsky, performed by two chapman sticks, drums and various percussion and effects, not neglecting any nuance from the original composition, captures the spirit, and yet real ... (read more)

Report this review (#1116522) | Posted by ShW1 | Sunday, January 19, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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