STICK MEN - “Tentacles”

By Dark Starr

You just can't go wrong with STICK MEN. The band is made up of Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter. The sound always has links to modern KING CRIMSON, but it's also unique from that. This new set has some especially strong music on it. While everything here is strong, there are some highlights. This is an EP that runs just half-an-hour. That said, didn't someone once say that you should leave 'em wanting more? It's successful at that. In fact, the list of contenders is getting crowded, and I'm a little hesitant to include something this short, but it is strong enough that it might still make my "best of 2022" list.

Energetic and rocking jamming is on the menu on the opening title track. The number is meaty and proggy and so cool. There are a few vocals on it, just the title. I love the bass groove on "Ringtone." The whole tune is elevated in terms of class and magic. It perhaps loses a little driving intensity from the last tune, and that's questionable. It gains so much in terms of melody and drama, though. The song is a definite highlight of the set.

Angular, driving and powerful, "Company of Ghosts" is another standout piece. It has such building energy to it. It's CRIMSONian, but one expects that of this act. It has these killer complementary layers of sound. It's just such a massive and strong piece of music. It also has contrast dropping to mellower moments. Heavy and dark in tone, "Danger in the Workplace" is fast-paced and crazed. It's a real powerhouse number. Just when you think they can't take any higher, they crank it out and intensify things to new levels.

A bit mellower and moody, "Satieday Night" has some intriguing exploration. That's partly due to the less intense and in-your-face arrangement giving room for more subtly. That said, the song turns decidedly metallic as it drives out approaching the halfway mark. The most dynamic piece on the disc, it shifts later to something that seems to land between the two earlier movements.