7d Media 2023
Against the grain of logic as a way for a reason, a rhyme and a rhythm: intrepid explorers of time and space find a new angle to corner.
It may seem strange yet, of the myriad ensembles that boast the presence of Markus Reuter and Pat Mastelotto in their line-ups, only STICK MEN and TUNER have been formulated outside of studio walls and painstakingly constructed with a prospect of on-stage delivery. But while the former collective unwillingly basked in the KING CRIMSON glory simply because of that band’s members’ quotient in the trio, the latter opted for a different route only to double back now. Still, the swelling of the duo’s ranks with the arrival of another former Robert Fripp associate, Trey Gunn, both upgraded the group’s name with a dash and bolstered their sonic and creative vibe to render it all more dashing and add a fresh dimension to what wasn’t linear anyway.
Spread across two discs and running for almost two hours, this record doesn’t provide insights into the thinking behind such curiosity-teasing titles as “Poem About A Sad Horse” or “Apple Turtle” – a couple of fearsome, if arresting, aural spectacles: a solemnly sparse and an angularly dense. Yet, although delving into those on a purely emotional level, with no cerebral aspect involved, would be wrong, especially when prepared pieces are interspersed with improvisatory passages, there’s something transfixing about the veterans’ telepathy and tuneful exchanges which allow the players to switch from intense flurries of notes to elegiac pursuit of beauty. It’s not for the sake of performance that the team deliver the goods here; it’s melodic riches they reach out for from the percussive ripple and riffs of the stygian “Crowfin” onwards, to where Pat and Trey’s mysterious messages seep trough vocoder into Marcus’ pulsating soundscapes. As a result, the twenty-three-minute epics “Contact Information” and “Forcibly Taken Into The Future” devour time and space to produce blistering, albeit cosmically unpredictable, combos of beats derived from Mastelotto’s extensive kitchen of hittable surfaces and the expansive squeals, wails and waves of Reuter and Gunn’s touch guitars.
However, despite the meandering grandeur of these gargantuan tapestries, shorter cuts like the funky “31” radiate streamlined, captivating grooves too, the splashes of pop-minded electronica and cymbals, as well as deliberated harmonic stumbles, undermining their bass-heavy flow, to an extent of letting “On The Other Side” tempt the listener to join the tribal dance. On the contrary, the drum-driven, delicately clanging “Moses” offers a cinematic, spoken-word-spiced experience, and “Poodles” turns dewdrops into a laughter-smeared orchestral fantasy – because “T-1 Contact Information” is a gloomy reverie, a dark dream people enjoy from time to time. And its time is now.