In an age where quantity is too often erroneously equated with quality, Stick Men’s Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter, previously known as TUNER, have put their weight on the quality part of that equation with an album consisting of just one track lasting 35 minutes.
For some that might be regarded as a problem, but it shouldn’t be. There’s so much musical information packed into this intricate but robust composition, there’s no sense of being short-changed. Almost every beat is filled with the diverse timbre of 16 guest contributors that includes horns, strings, four additional guitarists and some time-shifted manipulated vocal cords from the larynx of Steven Wilson. As a composer, Reuter doffs his melodic cap in the direction of his hero Mike Oldfield. However, this is emphatically not a Tubular Bells tribute; the terrain mapped out by the duo and their ensemble is far too rugged and varied for that, with abrupt turns and gear shifts. Built as a musical palindrome, there’s clearly a conceptual masterplan being enacted but its content more than repays any effort expended in following its twists and turns. Housed in an enigmatic cover portrait by Tool’s Adam Jones, FACE is a work of boldness and vision.