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STICK MEN

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Stick Men picture
Stick Men biography
Stick Men is a new Eclectic Prog supergroup - a power trio with members that do not need special introductions: they're Tony Levin and Michael Bernier (both, of course, on Chapman Sticks and vocal duties; Bernier occasionally occupying the drummer's stool as well) and Pat Mastelotto on drumsticks.
Needles to say, the fans of crimsonian prog will love it; there's also a lot of jazz and heavy chugging bursts, as well as avant moments and African soundscapes. A school example of Eclectic Prog that will most likely became a household name.

As of today, they released one album, called 'Soup'. Time will tell what will this s(o)upergroup offer in forthcoming days.


Moris Mateljan, 2010.
Source:
band's MySpace page

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STICK MEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STICK MEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.87 | 114 ratings
Soup
2010
3.38 | 42 ratings
Absalom
2011
3.68 | 34 ratings
Open
2012
3.76 | 45 ratings
Deep
2012
3.72 | 91 ratings
Prog Noir
2016

STICK MEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 13 ratings
Power Play
2014
3.33 | 8 ratings
Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (First Show) (feat. David Cross)
2015
4.11 | 8 ratings
Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (Second Show) (feat. David Cross)
2015
4.64 | 14 ratings
Midori (with David Cross)
2016
4.00 | 8 ratings
Roppongi - Live in Tokyo 2017, Show 1 (with Mel Collins)
2017
4.50 | 8 ratings
Roppongi - Live in Tokyo 2017, Show 2 (with Mel Collins)
2017
4.86 | 3 ratings
Panamerica (with David Cross)
2019
4.59 | 6 ratings
Owari (with Gary Husband)
2020

STICK MEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

STICK MEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Supercollider (An Anthology 2010-2014)
2014
3.33 | 3 ratings
Unleashed (Live Improvs 2013)
2015
3.85 | 7 ratings
Konnekted
2017
3.50 | 2 ratings
Kollekted
2017

STICK MEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Prog Noir Bonus Tracks
2017
4.00 | 2 ratings
Tentacles
2022

STICK MEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Roppongi - Live in Tokyo 2017, Show 1 (with Mel Collins) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 8 ratings

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Roppongi - Live in Tokyo 2017, Show 1 (with Mel Collins)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was five years ago to this very day that STICK MEN roared into Tokyo, Japan to play some live music. This was recorded at "Billboard Live" on February 21 2017 with special guest Mel Collins adding flute and sax. I think it's so cool that on the "Midori" live set we get David Cross adding that violin flavour then here on "Roppongi" we get that flute and sax from Mel Collins while on "Owari" we get Gary Husband adding keyboards. So to hear these songs sounding slightly different because of these special guests is pretty amazing. I need that one with Husband on it. Hey how about doing a tour with these three guests and get SONAR with David Torn to join them. What a double bill that would be! I've said it before but that KING CRIMSON vibe is very strong with this band as we get Levin and Mastelotto from that legendary group plus band leader Marcus Reuter out of Germany adding those Fripp-like soundscapes along with touch guitars and more. The other great thing about this band is the improvs, again taking inspiration from KC but having the ability to pull it off as well. We do hear applause after the songs end but that's it for crowd noise.

I have a top five even though there are only nine tracks. This is good! So the opener "Hide The Trees" was one of my favourite tracks on the first "Midori" show and to hear it here with flute is special. Growly bass, touch guitar and drums as Mel shows off his flute skills. I like how that catchy opening theme is repeated late. "Sepia" is another top five that is such a great sounding piece with the high pitched touch guitar sounds and those drums early on that sound so good. It turns spacey at 2 minutes, kind of haunting actually. This track goes to some pretty cool places. Headphone music. It kicks back in before 8 minutes surprisingly as the intro is reprised.

"Prog Noir" from the album of the same name opens with bass and a groove as the guitar joins in. Vocals from Tony before a minute and they will come and go. Some power over that final minute. "Ookami" is new to this show and another top five. Soundscape stuff to start and we get some sax before 1 1/2 minutes along with tons of atmosphere. Some booming drums that will settle back and the sax becomes more steady. Guitar replaces the sax about half way through but the sax is back before 7 1/2 minutes as it calms right down to the end. Band introductions are then announced by Tony. By the way the picture of the band in the liner notes is a good one but Tony isn't wearing glasses like the other three and he's got his hoody up. What a rebel! Final top three and absolute favourite is "Level 5" and thankyou for covering one of my all time favourite KING CRIMSON tracks. Yes a level five hurricane is what we get here. And with sax! Nasty sax! It's screaming!

Just a joy spinning the music from this band. I especially adore the debut album "Soup" and their last studio album so far "Prog Noir" then add the "Midori" and "Roppongi" shows and I'm pretty good but wishing for "Owari". Maybe one day.

 Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (First Show) (feat. David Cross) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2015
3.33 | 8 ratings

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Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (First Show) (feat. David Cross)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars and a step down from their second show that I've already reviewed. I'm a big fan of the sound of this band who can be a muscular KING CRIMSON or they can be that band who does that soundscape thing too. This is a band who has released quite a few more live albums than studio records. I'm such a fan of the debut "Soup" then later in 2016 that "Prog Noir" album just hit the spot for me. And as far as their live albums go, other than that first live record they always have a heavy weight guest helping them out and certainly David Cross has made himself available to this trio on many of these live events. I just got the double live "Roppongi" with Mel Collins helping out in the mail and man am I looking forward to spinning it all next week.

One of my issues with this show is that they focus too much on the soundscape thing. The advantage of it is that the three tracks that have beats and energy standout even more because it is so much about those spacey sounds especially on the two improvs but also on the other four songs in that style. So seeing and hearing this show live would have been pretty cool. There's a few KING CRIMSON covers plus "Shades Of Starless" so you KING CRIMSON fans need to at least check this band out. The two originals with some power that I really like are "Hide The Trees" and "Cusp" but overall I'll stick(haha) with some of their other live records.

 Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (Second Show) (feat. David Cross) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2015
4.11 | 8 ratings

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Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (Second Show) (feat. David Cross)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars STICK MEN is a band that scratches that KING CRIMSON itch big time. It doesn't hurt that two of the three members are KC alumni. Tony Levin and Pat Mastelloto on stick and drums while main man Markus Reuter adds touch guitars, soundscapes, keys and more. This particular live recording was released as a double album but they were also released separately. I feel that this second show is much superior to the first show plus there are three songs in common with both shows. Both of these shows were performed in Tokyo, Japan in April of 2015 and both shows end with "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part 2". They have since recorded live albums with Mel Collins, Gary Husband and more with David Cross who is on here adding mostly violin of course but some keys too.

I have a top five here which doesn't include the opening two tracks even though these two tunes set the tone as we get an opening soundscape that is dark with some suspense and the guitar arrives late as it blends into an improv where the power increases and there's so much going on including drums and then violin late. Applause when it ends. My top five includes the next three tracks including "Breathless" with that powerful start as the guitar grinds it out. Love the guitar before 2 minutes as well and around 3 1/2 minutes they all amp it up. Next one is an improv that kind of builds from around 1 1/2 minutes after a quiet start. Amazing sound 4 minutes in with the nasty guitar and violin. Then "Sartori In Tangier" ends that 3 song stretch with melancholy as the violin does it's thing along with these intricate and punchy sounds draped in atmosphere.

The next two tracks "Crack In The Sky" and "Shades Of Starless" certainly have their spacey moments. Then we get the final two of my top five in "Firebird Suite" and "The Talking Drum". The "Firebird Suite" is haunting with howls as a bass line joins in and then some dirty guitar before it kicks in with drums a minute in and the tempo picks up. So good! It brightens after 3 minutes but then the lights go back out before 5 minutes. Violin before 8 minutes. "The Talking Drum" is intense and Cross is lighting it up. An experimental ending to this one.

This is probably closer to 4.5 stars. I can't get over how much more I like this show over the first one, it's not close.

 Owari (with Gary Husband) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2020
4.59 | 6 ratings

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Owari (with Gary Husband)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars In 2019, Leonardo Pavkovic started planning a short tour of Asia which would see Stick Men performing in China for the first time, as well as returning to Japan, and this time they would have a special guest in Gary Husband who would be providing keyboards. However, in November they were told that the Hong Kong gig was off due to the unrest in the city, and then in early February 2020 they were told the Chinese dates were off due to the growing pandemic. It was agreed that the Japan dates would go ahead, so on February 26th the group arrived in Nagoya, having set off from different starting points and countries. This gave them some time to rehearse, agree the setlist, and undertake some sightseeing before the first gig of the tour on the 28th, only to be told that this would be the only night as Japan was also closing down.

So, with little rehearsal time, and a tour reduced to just one night the guys did what they do best, settle in for a gig of mastery and entertainment. Husband sounds as if he has always been there, not imposing himself into the band but somehow filling spaces and gaps which benefit from his intervention. Stick Men have played many hundreds of gigs, while Levin and Mastelotto can add many more together, so the three of them inherently know where to go when it is time for improvisation, and when it keep it tight, and the combination of their skills and musical mastery make them a band like no other. Drums, stick and touch guitar, combine with the additional layering of keyboards to create something very special indeed.

With no audience noise, this sounds as if was a studio recording which has been finessed to perfection, and not like a live performance at all, but if one had been there that night, one would have heard masterful takes on their own material, such an inspired "Prog Noir", where Husband adds an additional layer which takes it in new directions, as well as some Crimson classics given their own unique twist. If musically this were not enough, Moonjune have released the CD in a hardback picture book containing photos of the event. It makes for a very special release indeed, and one to which I will often be returning.

 Soup by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.87 | 114 ratings

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Soup
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 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.

 Owari (with Gary Husband) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2020
4.59 | 6 ratings

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Owari (with Gary Husband)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by mosesfusion

4 stars Live albums have come a long way, what with the capability to record a multitrack of the show right out of the soundboard and take it away on a USB drive, if so desired. This one barely even sounds live - if you'd told me it was a studio album, I might have believed you. Everything is crisp and clear and the balance is great.

I wasn't at the show, of course, but it sounds like it was a good one. I imagine the Stick Men are fun to watch and the addition of Gary Husband on keyboards is a nice treat. I guess the Stick Men compositions don't really *need* keyboards - lots of bands have been successful without them - but in this case it does add an additional dimension these songs didn't have before.

Tony Levin sounds great here, both on his bass playing and his occasional vocals. That's no surprise, I guess, Tony has always been one of my favorites, from the first time I saw him grinning his way through Yes tunes with ABWH back in the day. I enjoyed hearing Pat's acoustic drumming here after so much electronic stuff with King Crimson. Markus Reuter is equally impressive in his performance.

There are two King Crimson covers here - and a couple of references that I wouldn't call covers. Larks' Part II sounds great, with all the ferocity of the original and some nice stuff going on in the improv section. Level Five seems kind of weak compared to the original, almost like an "elevator music" version. Perhaps the former succeeds because there was only one guitar on the original, whereas Level Five is missing the Belew counterpart to Reuter's Fripp impersonation. I really liked the addition of the keyboards here, adding some nice jazzy runs to the spaghetti-fingers part.

Overall, the album was good and I'd listen to it again, but I doubt it will get tons of plays on my system. If you have nothing else by Stick Men and you'd like to check them out, this isn't a bad place to start. 4 stars.

 Panamerica (with David Cross) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2019
4.86 | 3 ratings

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Panamerica (with David Cross)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars When this album arrived I knew I would have to put aside some special time to listen to it, and when I had the opportunity I sat down and listened to it all the way through in one sitting. So what? I hear you ask. Well this set is nearly five and a half hours long! Perhaps I should let Markus Reuter explain, 'embarking on this major tour in August and September 2018 in 10 countries with David Cross (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico) we planned to record all the shows with a view to potentially releasing them digitally. However, once I began reviewing the multi-track files, I was shocked to discover that in many cases both mine and Tony's parts were missing, leaving us with far less useable material. Nonetheless, this setback inspired a creative approach that led us to produce this special boxed set. Across five themed discs we present the band's progression throughout the tour using material and preferences that resonated with us.'

Not everyone will want to purchase this much music in one go, but it is also possible to grab each of the five discs individually (although by doing that you will miss out on the 24 page booklet containing photos by Tony Levin). The discs themselves are as follows, 'Improvs (Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil)', 'Suites (Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Chile)', 'Full Show, Parts 1 & 2 (Costa Rica)' (2 discs) and 'Soundscapes (Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala)'. The result of all this music is that one comes away with the jaw permanently stuck to the floor (drool is so messy), as the ears cannot comprehend what is going on in front of them. Reuter (touch guitar), Levin (Stick) and Pat Mastelotto (drums) have no equal when it comes to improvised progressive rock, and when they add David Cross into the equation the beast takes on new meaning. As well as providing lead interpretations of his own, Cross also provides support in filling in some of the gaps behind Reuter, while Mastelotto and Levin are joined at the hip, due to the many years of playing together and countless hours onstage providing complex and complicated support. Here they are not as constrained as they are at times with King Crimson and use the opportunity to spread out but also keeping it tight, with Cross and Reuter often duelling and bouncing ideas off each other at the front.

This is not music which follows any set pattern, instead it is four of the truly great musicians having fun and taking musical frameworks and then moving that to extremes. There is very little speaking between the songs, which in many ways is a shame as I learned little snippets of which I was previously unaware, but there really is no need as when masters like this are onstage they literally let their instruments do the talking.

This style of music will not be for everyone, and not even for all fans of progressive rock, as they move between complex time signatures and styles in way that is sometimes hard to fathom. At one point Mastelotto asks the crowd if they want to clap along with the next number, explaining the insanely tricky time signatures and how to follow. Just when the brain is starting to melt, he says, 'and then we do it backwards', at which point the brain promptly departs and says to the ears on the way out 'that's it, you're on your own as I have no idea how they can do this.'

But, and this is hugely important, this isn't being fiendishly clever for the sake of it but rather they are discovering where the music takes them, and each night it can be as much a surprise to them the musicians as it is to us the listener. We get some Crimson numbers thrown in here and there but given two people onstage are current members and one is a past member that will never be surprising, but here they are brought up to date and given full Stick Men treatment. This is an incredible release, and one which fans of instrumental music which is truly pushing boundaries need to investigate. As to which disc is best? Sorry, I love them all.

 Midori (with David Cross) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2016
4.64 | 14 ratings

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Midori (with David Cross)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars The reason for the "+" sign, is that here the trio of Levin, Mastelotto and Reuter have been joined by violinist/keyboard player David Cross. In April 2015 the quartet put on four concerts in Japan, and this double CD set captures the two shows from Tokyo, recorded on April 10th. With 19 songs, and nearly 140 minutes of music, this is very different indeed to the 'Prog Noir' studio album. What we have here are four top musicians pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable within music, refusing to compromise, and allowing themselves to fully explore the limits of touch guitar and stick. Given that three of the four have very close ties indeed with King Crimson, it isn't surprising that they also include some songs from that band, and each set closes with "The Talking Drum" and "Lark's Tongues In Aspic Part 2".

This is music for the listener to lose themselves inside, with all four seemingly going in totally different and unconnected directions, particularly during their improvisations, yet somehow it all still makes sense. This is where RIO, avant-garde, free jazz and progressive rock all decided to meet up for a brawl, with each of them getting the upper hand at some point, and the listener being the winner in the end. In many ways this isn't easy music to listen to, as it challenges the ears to accept what isn't often viewed as acceptable harmonies, but it is incredibly intriguing and I know that I for one am far richer for having heard it.

Strangely enough, I actually found this easy to get into the very first time I played it, and I would put that down to having well-trained ears, although my wife would probably say it's just because I'm weird (and she would know). But that's okay with me, all weirdos unite, and discover this incredible release which is perfect in just about every way.

 Prog Noir by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 91 ratings

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Prog Noir
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Originally formed in 2008 by Tony Levin (Chapman Stick, vocals), Pat Mastelotto (drums) and Michael Bernier (Chapman Stick, vocals) (hence the band name), the line-up changed in 2010 with the departure of Bernier and the addition of Markus Reuter (touch guitars, vocals). This 2016 album was their fifth studio album, and comprises songs that were specially composed for the purpose, as opposed to ones that they had worked through on the road. I must confess that the first time I played this I really wasn't too sure, as although the musicality on display is of course of the very highest order, I felt the songs were contrived and not allowed to expand to their full potential, while the vocals weren't doing anything for me at all.

But, as is often the case with music of worth, the more I played this the more it grew on me, until I found that my views were quite at odds with what I thought initially. I'm not even sure how quite to describe this to someone who hasn't come across them prior to this, as Pat and Tony are often taking the lead, with Markus providing additional tonal elements which often don't even sound as if they are coming from a guitar at all. Pat seems to have been at the top of the drumming game forever, while Tony is recognised as the world expert in the Chapman Stick, and they have been playing together in King Crimson for more than twenty years. This joined experience means that they know exactly what each other is going to do, where they are going to move, so it is no surprise that they fit together seamlessly. Then there is Markus, who adds additional tonal colour to everything that is taking place: I'm not sure how he always finds room among Tony's double-handed 12-string attack, but find room he does, creating a sonic assault that brings everything together.

Instrumentals like 'Schattenhaft' are simply stunning, while 'Plutonium' is a wonderful little song that is bound to bring a smile to any proghead. As I write this Stick Men are touring South America, and I just wish they would make the little trip over to Australia and New Zealand, as I would be great to see them play. There is a song on here called 'Leonardo', and there can't be many bands who dedicate a number to their manager, but richly deserved as Leonardo Pavkovic must be one of the hardest working people in the business and remains one of the nicest. This is an album that demands repeated playing, but more than repays the effort.

 Konnekted by STICK MEN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
3.85 | 7 ratings

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Konnekted
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions

4 stars With good reason you may number the STICK MEN project among the acclaimed King Crimson offshoot family. There are definitely diverse transitions to notice, and this not exclusively concerning the line up. Luckily their output is also evidently differing. This compilation offers more straightforward compositions. That means not that overly 'intellectual', like it is with Robert Fripp having a horse in the race. An album which is designed for digital download solely, for what I know. Obviously compiled as an appetizer for the (prog) masses. Hence on the one hand we have some live recordings, such as deriving from the Midori and Roppongi shows taking place in Tokio. This is mixed up with some excerpts deriving from their studio albums, and two previously unreleased song versions.

The album is going to start with the encouraging centerpiece Prog Noir from their current eponymous studio effort, on this occasion though in a live outfit. Musically rather differing, while provided with more ambient flavour, the wonderful Shades Of Starless features David Cross on violin and sees Markus Reuter using his touch guitar like a synthesizer. While listening to Time's Insane Ashes I'm always excited about Tony Levin's stick playing. Solid drumming by allrounder Pat Mastelotto is guaranteed too, let's take the exemplary jam Annapolis here for example. Sailor's Tale then excellently features Mel Collins on saxophone. Recommended! Overall 'Konnekted' is a highly entertaining song collection offered by those three exceptional prog musicans.

Thanks to clarke2001 for the artist addition. and to Ivan Melgar Morey for the last updates

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