Stick Men+: Midori (2018)

Written by: Kev Rowland

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.

Rating: 10/10


Track list:
1. Opening Sounscape – Gaudy (1st set)
2. Improv – Blacklight (1st set)
3. Hide The Trees (1st set)
4. Improv – Moth (1st set)
5. Industry (1st set)
6. Cusp (1st set)
7. Shades Of Starless (1st set)
8. The Talking Drum (1st set)
9. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part 2 (1st set)
10. Opening Soundscape – Cyan (2nd set)
11. Improv – Midori (2nd set)
12. Breathless (2nd set)
13. Improv – Moon (2nd set)
14. Sartori In Tangier (2nd set)
15. Crack In The Sky (2nd set)
16. Shades Of Starless (2nd set)
17. Firebird Suite (2nd set)
18. The Talking Drum (2nd set)
19. Lark’s Tongues In Aspic (2nd set)



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