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STICK MEN

Eclectic Prog • United States


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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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DeepDeep
Stickmen 2013
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Deep - Special EditionDeep - Special Edition
Special Edition
Stickmen 2013
$17.25
$34.69 (used)
AbsalomAbsalom
Stickmen 2013
$9.55
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SoupSoup
Stick Man Records 2010
$13.49
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MidoriMidori
JFK 2016
$15.41
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Supercollider: An Anthology 2010-2014Supercollider: An Anthology 2010-2014
Stickmen 2014
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OpenOpen
Stickmen 2013
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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)

3.77 | 101 ratings
Soup
2010
3.34 | 37 ratings
Absalom
2011
3.72 | 29 ratings
Open
2012
3.82 | 39 ratings
Deep
2012
3.72 | 83 ratings
Prog Noir
2016

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

3.83 | 12 ratings
Power Play
2014
3.83 | 6 ratings
Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (First Show) (feat. David Cross)
2015
4.17 | 6 ratings
Midori - Live in Tokyo 2015 (Second Show) (feat. David Cross)
2015
4.63 | 11 ratings
Midori (with David Cross)
2016
3.60 | 5 ratings
Roppongi - Live in Tokyo 2017, Show 1 (With Mel Collins)
2017
4.17 | 6 ratings
Roppongi - Live in Tokyo 2017, Show 2 (With Mel Collins)
2017

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
3.00 | 1 ratings
Unleashed (Live Improvs 2013)
2015
3.76 | 6 ratings
Konnekted
2017
3.00 | 1 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

STICK MEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Midori (with David Cross) by STICK MEN album cover Live, 2016
4.63 | 11 ratings

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Midori (with David Cross)
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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 | 83 ratings

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Prog Noir
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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
3.76 | 6 ratings

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Konnekted
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & 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.

 Prog Noir by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 83 ratings

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Prog Noir
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Maybe it pays to be wary of a Progressive Rock album with the word 'Prog' anywhere in its title. Sadly, the term still carries an unfair taint of mockery, no matter how challenging the actual music might be.

The new release from Tony Levin's Stick Men trio doesn't approach the nadir of Billy Sherwood's odious "Prog Collective" albums. But it doesn't quite redeem the cinematic self-deprecation implied by its title and artwork either, despite the ace musicianship. The album opens strong, on the chunky downbeat of Levin's trademark Chapman Stick, propelling the title track. But here and elsewhere some persuasive chops are let down by the lack of a genuine lead singer.

The tongue-in-cheek "Plutonium" is a happy exception, with its deadpan comic narration and oddball musical digressions, from Carl Orff to classic Yes. And most of what follows is (fortunately) instrumental, better showcasing the trio's capabilities. Levin puts his Stick through some impressive, gut-punching calisthenics, matched by his whirling-dervish King Crimson rhythm buddy Pat Mastelotto.

But the songwriting sounds oddly forced to these ears, as if the band was trying too hard to fit a mold labeled Prog, instead of throwing caution to the wind and attempting anything truly progressive. The tired melody of "Mantra" underlines the album's hairline cracks, by resembling a not-quite successful attempt to break through a wall of writer's block.

The end result is a more accessible sub-Crimson side-project, easy on the ears but hard to recall in detail, even after multiple spins.

 Prog Noir by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 83 ratings

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Prog Noir
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is my first trip into STICK MEN territory and it won't be my last. I'm such a fan of that KING CRIMSON style that is dark, heavy and complex. Having Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin both KING CRIMSON members on board is reason enough alone for me to be surprised I haven't checked these guys out yet. Markus Reuter rounds out this American power trio who are obviously riding the "Make America great again" wave adding his Touch guitars to Levin's Chapman Stick and Pat's muscular drumming.

I became an instant fan when the sounds of "Prog Noir" started to come out of my stereo. So much depth and it's dark as the vocals join in. Lots of atmosphere as well. Simply ground-shaking and where's that repeat button. "Mantra" is another killer track as the first four tunes are. Outbursts of heaviness in this dark atmosphere to start before it settles in with Stick and Touch guitars. The drums and dark atmosphere continue, I'm such a sucker for this type of music.

"Plutonium" is an innovative track with some really cool lyrics. Spoken words and plenty of humour on this one and I like the nods to other bands as the vocalist says "Cue the music of..." and then says the band's name then we get a snippet of their music played by STICK MEN. This happens a few times including YES being mentioned and the song "Roundabout" getting a brief cover by these guys. What an entertaining track! "The Tempest" has a catchy beat and it's very KING CRIMSON-like as these deep, almost spoken vocals join in. Man four really good songs in a row. "Schattenhaft" is fairly uptempo and it turns heavier before a minute. So impressive after 3 minutes, especially the guitar, and the drumming 4 minutes in to the end has my approval.

"Rose In The Sand/ Requiem" is mellow and pretty as the title would suggest. The second half that starts around 2 1/2 minutes in called "Requiem" is slower with more atmosphere and I like it better than the first part. "Leonardo" is also fairly laid back and quite beautiful with intricate sounds although there's quite a bit of depth here. It calms right down late and it's emotional. "Trey's Continuum" has all these intricate sounds coming and going and it's even better when it turns heavier a minute in. So good! The guitar starts to create some noise then a calm arrives around 2 1/2 minutes in, very KING CRIMSON-like.

"Embracing The Sun" has this catchy beat and I love the drumming. This is complex like "Discipline" by KC with all those intricate sounds weaving around each other. A highlight for sure. "Never The Same" is lighter sounding to start and quite uplifting then the drums and some deep sounds join in changing it completely and that for the better as the vocals join in. Man that drumming and sound before 3 1/2 minutes is almost TOOL-like. The guitar then soars as the drums pound 5 minutes in. That opening theme is back before it ends with static-like noise.

One of the years best in my opinion, I think 4.5 stars is about right. I'm so into this album! I will be checking out some of their earlier ones like "Deep" and "Soup" along with the live one "Midori".

 Prog Noir by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 83 ratings

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Prog Noir
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is wonderful!

I still remember that a couple of years ago, Stick Men visited Mexico City for an intimate and wonderful show in which, Levin, Mastelotto and Reuter let us know once again they are truly gifted musicians who really enjoy what they do. Now, two years later, I am delighted with their newest album, the mighty Prog Noir recently released through Moonjune Records; a 10-track album with 50 minutes of great music that in my humble opinion, does not have weak moments.

I have to say that I've been a fan of these musicians for several years, they are incredible with their instruments, but I also have to say that I am not really keen on Levin's voice, however, on this album the vocals sounds pretty good, hence doing no harm to the music, which is simply great. The album starts with the title track "Prog Noir" which is a great introduction, powerful, dense, with cool vocals and that imminent Crimsonian style that has to appear in every Stick Men album, for obvious reasons. In fact, second track "Mantra" is very reminiscent of the Thrak era; the guys don't deny their past and use it to build up new interesting songs.

"Plutonium" demands your attention due to its tension and explosive moments. It has short renditions to Orff's Carmina Burana, to Yes' Roundabout and to Tchaikovsky's La Marseillaise; and a chorus made for everyone to sing and enjoy: "Pluto, Pluto, Pluto, Pluto- nium" haha, truly enjoyable. "The Tempest" is another great track! I would like to point out that this album is quite different from their previous ones, and actually I think this is so far my favorite. I like that for example, in this song, if I didn't previously know they were Stick Men, I would think of another band.

With "Schattenhaft" I kinda want to dance and move my body with its heavy but friendly sound. I love the strings here, so powerful and again with that Crimsonian style, and of course Pat's drumming is always accurate, always spot on, always telling us something. "A Rose in the Sand / Requiem" brings tranquillity and relaxation, its sound is much more oriented to the soft side of music, giving us some minutes in which we can take a deep breath and have even a moment of introspection. Nice!

But be prepared, because after that relaxing moment comes a magnificent storm entitled "Leonardo", one of my favourite songs of the album. Progressive rock, virtuosity and power are merged in this track reminding us just why we love Levin and Reuter's finger work. This is chaotic, dense, powerful, amazing! I bet this might be a favourite for so many people, you just have to listen to it once to become an addicted. "Trey's Continuum" naturally has to do with the amazing Trey Gunn, another member of the Crimson family. The music in moments borders on cinematic, in others groovy and then heavy, which is why I think it never ceases to surprise, so one cannot get bored of it, never.

The last two songs are "Embracing The Sun" and "Never The Same". The first one without a doubt will take you to the Discipline-era, an instrumental track with repetitive but always different notes that produces addiction within ten seconds. I love it! And the last one brings again vocals, creating a great synergy between instruments and voice (which is also an instrument, but different, you know), so I believe this track was wonderfully chosen to close an excellent album, the best, or at least my favorite Stick Men album so far. Highly recommendable!

Enjoy it!

 Prog Noir by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.72 | 83 ratings

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Prog Noir
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars I never kept in secret my dislike for most KING CRIMSON, so when Leonardo MoonJune Pavkovic sent me a copy of Prog Noir by STICK MEN being that the lineup reminded me of Thrak (an album which I absolutely dislike), wasn't really enthusiastic. After some days and with some reluctance listened it and was gladly surprised.

The versatility of Levin and Reuter plus the ability of Pat Mastelotto in the drums simply replace the lack of keyboards (Something indispensable for a Symphonic fan), creating a very special atmosphere that combines strong rhythmic passages with a melodic base that really blew my brains.

Even when they have strong reminiscences of KING CRIMSON, Their sound is so unique that anything they play is simply beyond comparison and manage to keep the interest of their audience from the first to the last note.

My favorite track is Plutonium where after a constant repetition of a musical phrase and narration they pay to visit Carl Orff's 'Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi', YES Roundabout and Tchaikovsky's 1812 (Well really The Marsellaise) in a really amusing way, managing to break the almost hypnotic atmosphere (almost like a mantra) and paint a smile in the face of the listener.

But there are also some other great tracks lie the nostalgic Rose in the Sand/Requiem and the vibrant Leonardo, but in general terms, the album is pretty solid form start to end with no weak spots, so better if listened completely instead of choosing tracks.

Yesterday I was listening the album in the car wit my girlfriend and she asked me 'What do this guys play, Prog Rock, Avant Garde or Metal?' My answer was simple, I don't know or care, but it's great music.....After a few minutes that question made me think that if this guys take the risk to create something so elaborate and hard to catalogue and just worry about the music, I may well take the risk of giving them 5 stars.

 Soup by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.77 | 101 ratings

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Soup
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by ShW1

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 really rocks.

The main benefit of this album is the opportunity to get to know the Chapman Stick (for me this is an unknown, yet-to-discover era), performed by two wizards. Levin covers the bass and the middle range, while Brenier contribute a bowed style. Yes it's the instrument that doesn't sound like a bass, sound different from electric guitar, yet performed both ranges and styles. Mastelotto backs up with drumming, percussion and effects.

Other highlights here are 'Hands', a true progressive epic, and not among of the simplified ones. It holds curved, intricate stick lines that burst into a rocking section and ponding drums, middle song section and dramatic end. And 'Super collider' is just brilliant with the bass riff, amusing rap style vocals and lyrics, and ever changing rhythm and effects.

Another track I liked is 'Sasquatch', in a KC-80-minimalistic style. The Other tracks are quite enjoyable, but failed to impress me as compositions in the high level of those who mentioned above. And it detracts from the whole album treatment. So my final rating is 3 stars for this effort. Anyway, very enjoyable stick work from the masters, with some strong compositions.

 Absalom by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.34 | 37 ratings

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Absalom
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by 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.

 Soup by STICK MEN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.77 | 101 ratings

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Soup
Stick Men Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

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.

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

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