STICK MEN – Roppongi – Live In Tokyo 2017

MoonJune 2017

STICK MEN – Roppongi – Live In Tokyo 2017

STICK MEN –
Roppongi –
Live In Tokyo 2017

Most emotional expansion brings out the tenderness and trepidation in troika of wandering spirits.

Mythbusters might formulate it quite concisely, stating that “triangles are the strongest shape because any added force is evenly spread through all three sides,” yet this band continuously try and defy such formula by applying a new element to their music. Back in 2015, when the trio had invited to join them – as documented on "Midori" – his violin heightened collective idiosyncrasy, while the welcoming of Mel Collins in the fold two years later, not only brought pacifying motifs within the ensemble’s melodies but also dictated the choice of material, and that’s without saying that now there were three current Crimsonites on board. Nostalgia, according to the “Roppongi” brace of quite dissimilar evenings, never makes inroads into the band’s method, though.

This is why it’s not the ever-menacing, and always unpredictably adventurous, “Sailor’s Tale” or the ever-present metal madness of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2” – where the guest’s brass has a field day – that are the focus of the group’s attention; rather, it’s their “Deep” album whence the quartet dug out a handful of cuts, including the first concert’s opener “Hide The Trees” whose edgy funky pirouettes and blissful bluesy passages, shot through with the Arcadian flute, replace a regular soundscape. The introductory improvisation, the set’s aquarelle-like title track, heralds the second performance, and the flights of fantasy on the playfully, albeit anxiously, jiving “Shiro” and the finely textured “Ookami” are genuinely, jazzily majestic, yet the most impressive, impressionist even, the instrumentalists’ tangles are in the well-structured pieces which allow them to go off on a tangent and circle back.

Thus, the disturbingly elegiac “Sepia” is getting embroidered with Collins’ reed and Pat Mastelotto’s percussive detail, and “Prog Noir” – one of a few numbers from the band’s latest studio offering – is coiling the unhurried collective throb into a recital sort of song. But if “Sartori In Tangier” is strikingly colored by Mel’s marks which enrich the telepathic meandering of Markus Reuter’s guitar and Tony Levin’s stick that’s so delicate, and tense, in “Crack In The Sky,” the trio’s groove in “Schattenhaft” feels a little more than skeletal in its hectic stumble. Soiled with sax, it may grow powerful in scope on “Industry” whereas KC rarity “Level 5” receives an alluring airing to illustrate the group’s roaring aspect in unltimately uncompromising terms and kaleidoscopic sonics.

With “OPEN” offering a roiling, boiling way out of a pair of tremendous trips into the great unknown, there’s no limit to what this triangle can do without losing their integrity. After this, even an affair with a symphony orchestra wouldn’t seem weird.

*****

February 10, 2018

Category(s): Reviews
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