In between their various commitments with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and other activities, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto have, since 2007, been busy building Stick Men into a standalone unit.
Along with 2010 recruit, touch guitarist Markus Reuter, they’ve tapped into audiences keen to hear their mix of Crimson-hued original material and robust interpretations from the Crimson back catalogue.
The inclusion of ex-Crim violinist David Cross brings with him a surprisingly forceful and gritty presence. KC touchstones such as Talking Drum, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 2, and less well-known stompers such as Sartori In Tangier and Fripp’s Breathless, understandably play well to this Japanese crowd.
Yet sparks truly fly when Stick Men enter into their own distinctive identity and sonic space. Crack In The Sky, etched with Levin’s dry, spoken lyrics, casts an attractively moody light, while the knotty circularity of Hide The Trees snarls and growls. The improvisations peppering this two-disc set hit home and hit hard. Possessing a sinuous grace, they frequently mutate into darker, glowering energies, often spilling into welcome unpredictability.