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Stick Men: Tentacles

Stick Men, the collaboration between King Crimson members Tony Levin (Chapman stick, touch guitar U10, vocoder) and Pat Mastelotto (drums and percussion) along with Markus Reuter (touch guitar AU8 and ‘soundscapes’), have been together for over ten years and there’s no doubt that they’ve found their oeuvre. Not too surprisingly, that niche that they’ve dug ever deeper stretches back to the Discipline, Thrak (and more) era of Crimson that Levin was so vital to and that’s something that continues convincingly on Tentacles, a just under 30 minute EP.

As you’d expect, angular is the order of the day, the trio immediately wrapping themselves about you with “Tentacles”, a near instrumental - as this EP basically is - piece that at first confuses and confounds. Over time though, the inner intention here and the sparse, melodic crooning of ‘tentacllllllllllllessssss’ prove to be grin inducingly good fun, with the smooth ‘soundscape’ that Reuter is also credited with adding, revealing a completely different dimension.

“Ringtone” maybe isn’t quite so dense, or as rich as what it follows, but with the Chapman Stick roaming and prowling around you it’s certainly more threatening and foreboding, before “Company Of Ghosts” appears in suitably enigmatic style, although for my money it’s the least structured piece on show and the most forgettable. “Danger In The Workplace” at times crawls along and at other points moves even slower, and unless you’re paying real attention, it can actually be possible to not notice it’s there at all. And yet, when the pace is picked up it emits a darting surge of sound that at volume knocks you sideways, even if you’re not 100% sure why - but then that’s much of the point here.

Closing things comes “Satieday Night”, which rivals the opening cut for the strongest composition on show, and proving to me at least that Stick Men, like the era of King Crimson they pull their inspiration from, are a much more powerful beast when they are formed and focused.

At this stage I don’t expect Stick Men to change anyone’s minds. Those already on board with this uncompromising, strangely melodic/unmelodic challenge will continue to revel in releases like this. Those yet to be seduced will likely enough remain confused. Thankfully on this occasion I fall firmly into the former camp.

Track Listing
1. Tentacles
2. Ringtone
3. Company Of Ghosts
4. Danger In The Workplace
5. Satieday Night

Added: July 21st 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Stick Men @ bandcamp
Hits: 160
Language: english

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