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Friday, August 06, 2010

Soup Stick Men

Sticking Out!
Stick Men
Stick Man Records

Whilst Levin and Mastelotto’s work will be well-known to Crimheads and beyond, Michael Bernier’s brings an astonishingly fluent style across the whole album. Blessed with keenly melodic instincts combined with an especially pleasing ability to go for the jugular, Bernier is emphatically not the junior partner in the project.

Given the calibre of the musicians, as you’d expect there’s plenty of knotty riffs, crunching dynamics and jagged off-the-wall soloing. Bristling with energy and more than a few inspired flourishes, although Crimson’s cyclical vocabulary is interwoven throughout, the results never sound slavish or second-hand.

The Chapman Stick’s spiky signature sound ensures the overall surface of the album is anything but smooth. Bernier and Levin’s fingerwork often flies at the listener like a nail-bombing going off;the Crimsonesque clashing found on the first part of the multi-sectioned Hands cuts and shreds!

Whilst any album containing a re-working of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite is always going to be weighted more towards a driving instrumental firepower, Soup also indulges their more populist instincts. Infused with Mastelotto’s bubbling electronica, Scarlet Wheel, has a smoochy elegance, and Levin’s wry declamatory vocals on the Steven Wilson-mixed title track and Hands will be familiar to fans of Tony’s previous solo work.

Buy the album here.

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