Title - 'Prog Noir'
Artist - Stick Men
With riveting performances by the modern prog-rock legends Stick Men - Tony Levin, Markus Reuter and Pat Mastelotto - the brand new album Prog Noir is ambitious and essential. From the overpowering to the sublime; from an organic, instinctive avant-garde, to intricate, Crimson-esque tapestries, this album embodies the go-for-it, pioneering spirit that fans of Stick Men have long savored.
A modern prog epic, long-time fans of both Stick Men and King Crimson will revel in ecstasy, as the three sonic adventurers gleefully waltz to the outer fringes. The chemistry of Levin and Mastelotto has never been more evident, keeping a solid, propulsive undercurrent flowing beneath the soaring presence of the ingenious 'mad scientist' antics of Reuter.
1. 'Prog Noir'
4. 'The Tempest'
6. 'Rose in the Sand / Requiem'
8. 'Trey's Continuum'
9. 'Embracing the Sun'
10. 'Never the Same'
From the building, atmospheric musical rise from the smoke comes the title track, 'Prog Noir' and it is as mysterious, as criminally brilliant as any theatrical moment caught live on stage in the West End as you could ever hope for! What follows is an album of 10 tracks, clocking in at close to 50 minutes that never lets go of your brain, always twisting, turning, and opening new neural pathways to sounds that you, quite possibly, have never heard put together in such a way ever before.
Contained on Prog Noir (an album title I adore, for the record) there's a superb range of vocals/vocal arrangements, but lest we forget that, as expected, this album is based, structured for the most part around the preconceived nature of the tunes. And rightfully so, for tracks such as 'Mantra' (the second longest track on the album) is a mini-opus all of its own. The crunchy, if I can use that word here, 'The Tempest' is a Goth/Prog piece of musical wonderment, whereas something like both 'Schattenhaft' and 'Embracing The Sun' are more your standard Prog fare.
Prog Noir, which has artwork by John Bergin, band photography by Kai R. Joachim, and a layout constructed by Bernhard Wöstheinrich, is a true revelation throughout its 10 tracks. Triumphantly succeeding in every avenue it dares to explore here, the trio display their collective musicianship as a whole - and seem to be enjoying the heck out of it at the same time.