Stick Males with Gary Husband – Owari
(MoonJune Information MJR106. Evaluate by Julian Maynard-Smith)
Stick Males is a trio that’s successfully an offshoot of King Crimson, a band whose ancestral roots twist greater than a mangrove forest. By Crimson requirements, Stick Males’s line-up has been remarkably constant: since 2010 it’s at all times been Chapman Stick participant Tony Levin (who joined King Crimson in 1981 for the album Self-discipline), drummer Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson drummer since 1994) and Contact Guitar participant Markus Reuter (who changed Chapman Stick participant Michael Bernier three years after the band’s formation in 2007 – the one personnel change within the trio’s historical past).
The Chapman Stick and Contact Guitar are each unique however comparable guitar-like devices. In contrast to regular guitars the place the participant frets with one hand and plucks the strings with the opposite, each the Stick and Contact Guitar are designed for two-handed tapping on the fretboard. The Stick has ten strings starting from the bass to treble register, and Reuter’s Contact Guitar AU8 is a semi-acoustic eight-string with particular person pickups per string designed by Markus Reuter himself. Each devices supply monumental scope for polyphony and sophisticated sound textures – potentialities additional prolonged by the truth that Mastelotto performs each acoustic and digital drums and percussion, very similar to his King Crimson predecessor Invoice Bruford.
The King Crimson connections transcend the truth that two of the Stick Males are long-time members. Their albums and live shows embody Crimson tracks, and two reside albums recorded in Tokyo included former or present Crimson members: Midori (2015) featured David Cross on violin and keyboards, and Roppongi (2017) the saxophonist and flautist Mel Collins.
And now we’ve got Owari – one other Japanese live performance, this one recorded within the jazz membership Blue Be aware Nagoya on 28 February 2020. However there are some notable variations from the earlier two. First, this live performance options the legendary jazz and rock musician Gary Husband, exceptional for by no means having performed in King Crimson and for enjoying keyboards, that are a rarity in Crimson’s usually guitar-led output. Second, not like the opposite reside albums, Owari feels like a studio album with all proof of an viewers airbrushed out; the explanation, I think, is that Covid-19 turned a sold-out live performance right into a sparsely attended one, and for driving rock-oriented music like this it’s higher to listen to no viewers than hole claps from a near-empty membership. Actually, it’s a miracle the live performance occurred in any respect, as a result of political unrest in Hong Kong then Covid-19 meant that this live performance was the one one out of an Asian tour to not be cancelled – symbolically, Owari is Japanese for ‘finish’.
Contemplating the band’s tour travails, and the actual fact the live performance was Husband’s first public efficiency with the band after just a few hours of rehearsal on the sound-check, the outcomes are impressively cohesive – all of it feels like a correct studio album reasonably than merely a live performance sans viewers.
Crimson followers will love Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Half II, the abrasive and impasto-thick guitar and driving drums making it a lot heavier than the Crimson unique; and Cusp, with its start-stop rhythms harking back to Crimson’s love of bizarre time signatures. Stick Males followers will love listening to Prog Noir from the group’s eponymous first album, the one music on Owari and one which made me consider late-period Bowie. Open-minded newcomers will love the distinction of moods, from eerie filmic atmospherics to pounding metallic that might silence a foundry. And regardless that half of the ten tracks (excluding the CD-only bonus monitor) additionally seem on Roppongi, Husband’s keyboard contributions alone warrant investing on this album, starting from film-noir piano plinks on the multi-textured temper piece Hajime, to retro-sounding organ / Rhodes piano jabs on the muscular and funky Schattenhaft, to fluty ripples that begin the atmospheric Swimming in T, to wild glissandi on the head-banger Degree 5 that closes this most satisfying album.
LINK: Stick Men on Bandcamp