Stick Men’s 2010 debut, Soup, was an impressive calling card with plenty of promise. Now Levin and Mastelotto have drawn deeper upon their Crimson roots for this extended EP.
Hewn in places from the same heaving musculature of Level Five and various Larks’ Tongues epics, there’s an air of unfinished business to some of these churning, turbulent pieces. The title track in particular provides exactly the kind of fast-changing, sharply contrasting environment in which Mastelotto’s explosive drumming enthralls and excites.
Smudge neatly adapts Seizure, a Levin riff first explored but not sufficiently exploited in the ProjeKcts and Crimson. Here it’s adorned with horn-like themes and intriguing orchestral samples. While acknowledging its obvious lineage, Absalom is no mere Crimson knock-off.
New recruit Markus Reuter (Mastelotto’s partner in prog-electronica outfit, Tuner), provides a distinctive yet unflashy suppleness, his snarling touch guitar dovetailing neatly between the drummer’s quick-fire dynamics and Levin’s love for bass-end slaloming.
Levin’s front-man confidence has also bloomed since their last release. His near-whisper vocal on Crack In The Sky, (recalling Robbie Robertson’s Somewhere Down The Crazy River) lends the sultry ballad a persuasive poise and grace that effortlessly steals the show.
You can hear and buy this album directly from Stick Men