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Album Review

Stick Men: Tentacles

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Stick Men: Tentacles
In the early 1960s, before every teenage rock band wanted to be the Beatles, many of them (especially in Southern California) wanted to be the Chantays (1963's "Pipeline"), The Surfaris' ("Wipeout" and "Point Panic," both from 1963) or Dick Dale and the Deltones ("Miserlou," 1962). Those days were the short-lived peak of surf rock, and it was big. All of those mentioned tunes hit the pop record charts, something that became rare for instrumental music thereafter. For some, these succinct, snappy tunes may have served as gateways to future jazz fandom.

What does that have to do with the Stick Men? It is a fair guess that none of the Stick Men surf—guitarist Markus Reuter is from Germany; guitarist Tony Levin is from Boston; and drummer Pat Mastelotto hails from Chico, in California, but way up in the central valley, a long way from the waves. But it is possible that they all heard the surf sound somewhere coming up.

But enough with the speculation. The Stick Men may be the ultimate guitar band. The music they make on Tentacles is hard charging, groove Heavy (note the capital letter and the italics), loud music that, played at a good volume, can shake the marrow of your bones and set the cerebral synapses on fire. So, groove and forward momentum are shared by the Stick Men with surf rock, along with its immediacy and purity of purpose.

The two musical forms differ in their intensity levels. The Stick Men take that groove and momentum aspect into the cosmos, with drummer Mastelotto often sounding like Led Zepplin's John Bonham hopped up on two gallons of coffee, coming into the studio after he has just kicked somebody's ass in the alley by the dumpster.

Another difference is in the complexity and harmonic depth. Surf rock—for all its appeal—was simple music. Tapestry is often roaringly orchestral—Levin and Reuter are on Touch Guitars (and other things), and they make dense and glorious noise. Sometimes they twang like Dick Dale, and the closer, "Satieday Night"—after a sludgy, creeping introduction—explodes into a riotous chordal blast that sounds like the opening of Elvis Presley's 1957 hit "Jailhouse Rock."

"The warden threw a party in the county jail." Indeed.

The running time, at a shade under thirty minutes, is a bit short, but it is straight through twenty-four karat guitar music. Excellent, take-no-prisoners sounds.

Track Listing

Tentacles; Ringtone; Company Of Ghosts; Danger In The Workplace; Satieday Night

Personnel

Tony Levin: bass; Pat Mastelotto: drums; Markus Reuter: guitar, electric.

Additional Instrumentation

Tony Levin: Chapman Stick, Touch Gutars U10, Vocorder; Pat Mastelotto: acoustic and electric drums, percussion; Markus Reuter: Touch Guitar AU8 soundscapes.

Album information

Title: Tentacles | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: MoonJune Records

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