Tentacles by Stick MenRelease date: April 1, 2022
Label: MoonJune Records
Writing has always kept my booster going for 14 years. Whenever I hear a piece of music, I know that it’s pulling me upwards to see where the next parallel door will take me. When it comes to Stick Men, I know that the stick of dynamite has exploded right in front of my eyes with excellent results.
Their latest EP Tentacles, is like a roller-coaster ride waiting to happen. It’s always great to hear Levin, Reuter, and Mastelotto driving back into the night once more with new material that has suddenly become a blooming flower waiting to be unleashed.
Once you get into the back seat of Stick Men’s updated ’59 Corvette, its one helluva ride. You have the clock-ticking turned Frippertronic sounds of ‘Ringtone’ as itr transforms the story into an issue straight out of Bill Willingham’s comic book series, Fables.
The trio have brought enough fuel to the fire not knowing when Bigby Wolf will transform back into his true form, ready to attack once again. The ‘Company of Wolves’ sets up this whirlpooling terror to reveal the dark past and present imagery while Reuter and Levin spread the fire throughout the entire forest by going for the upper crust.
Massive and unstoppable, Stick Men get down to business by showing listeners how much of this wretched world that we are still living in, two years later. There’s the dark and heavier arrangements as the band channel Ash Ra Tempel’s ‘Amboss’ by honoring the maestro himself, Manuel Göttsching.
The opening title-track bursts through the floodgates as if someone has punched you in the gut so hardcore, you couldn’t eat for eight days. Tidal-waving destruction between Mastelotto’s drumming, Reuter’s touch guitar lines, and Tony’s chapman stick going from one ladder to another.
Like a game of cat-and-mouse, Stick Men creates it with more challenging twists and turns to make it very, very dangerous. Speaking of dangerous, ‘Danger in the Workplace’ gets even crazier. With its cage-snapping introduction, Reuter’s instrument transforms into a blood-thirsty monster chowing down massive loads of human flesh like there’s no tomorrow!
Both Levin and Mastelotto are in hot pursuit chasing Reuter’s instrument before they go into this middle-eastern sequence that takes you in the hottest temperature levels in the heart of Egypt. ‘Satieday Night’ which has textures of Andy Summers’ arrangements of ‘Behind My Camel’ from the Zenyatta Mondatta period, closes the door to the nightmarish universe we’ve entered. And the craziness that’s going on right now, is even more hay-wiring than ever!
Tentacles is a challenging EP Stick Men has brought to the kitchen table this year. It’s great to hear from them again after their 2016 release Prog Noir and their 2020 live album Owari. Once again, their version of the instrumental songbird has landed safe fully for the trio to have their engines revved up for another round that awaits us.