Saturday, March 1, 2014

Power Play by Stick Men

Resonant, buzzing,
geometric and abstract,
Stick Men perform live.

Power Play is the first official live recording by Stick Men (Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Markus Reuter) and brings together mostly tunes from their latest studio album, Deep, with a scattering of tracks from other sources as noted below.
  1. Nude Ascending Staircase
  2. On/Off
  3. Crack in the Sky
  4. Breathless (ala Robert Fripp)
  5. Cusp
  6. Van Dyke Improv (unknown to me)
  7. Horatio
  8. Whale Watch
  9. Hide the Trees
  10. Open, Part III (Open)
  11. Firebird Suite (Soup, ala Stravinsky)
Believe it or not, the first adjective that comes to mind when describing this performance is restraint. Instead of a lot of progressive bombast you get a very refined, well-shaped performance of the band as a whole. On/Off is a perfect example of this balance where Reuter's Touch Guitar bubbles mathematically over waves of Levin's Chapman stick punctuated by Mastelotto's drumming. This transitions nicely into the moody Crack in the Sky with its long legato phrases while Mastelotto plays with such a light touch, like rain falling.

The video below shows the band performing Breathless and gives you an idea of how they're able to combine masterful technique with incredible musicality all while having a good time.

You can learn more about Stick Men at their website, Power Play is available from iapetus media.

Update 01 Mar 2014: My one quibble is that I prefer my live albums with a bit more banter to give it the recording a sense of a specific location and time.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

No comments: