Fans push Stick Men well past fundraising goal, deluxe new album Deep due in October

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Over the last few years, Tony Levin’s Stick Men have often stopped touring long enough to crank out a quick EP, before hitting the road again to bring the new music to their fans. This time, Levin says they’re doing it the right way.

The Stick Men — which also includes Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter — took a rare and extended sabbatical in order to construct Deep, a forthcoming release that will include expanded packaging to boot: A deluxe edition is planned “with DVD of 5.1 mix, live video footage, ‘making of’ video footage, and a special art package,” Levin tells us.

Levin and Mastelotto are both former members of King Crimson. Reuter also has a Crimson connection, having studied Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft.

Of course, a project like theirs has never been more difficult to get off the ground, and that’s where the Stick Men’s legions of devoted supporters came in. Asked to help fund the Deep album effort, fans making a total of 221 pledges as of today have quickly pushed funding well past Levin’s initial goal — to 120 percent and counting. There are various pledge levels still available, from $10 (for an album download and updates), through to $40 (a signed CD edition) and $100 (a deluxe CD/DVD edition, T-shirt and signed card), all the way up to a $3,000 level which includes, among other things, executive producer credit on the album.

Deep is due on October 19, 2012. The project’s theme revolves around whale watching, something Levin says he’s done many times from the Cape Cod to Boston areas. The trio has been working out a tone poem that, by movement four, features the appearance of a whale.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Tony Levin contemplates the future of King Crimson, goes in-depth on his trio project with David Torn and Alan White, and discusses performing on John Lennon’s final sessions.]

“I hope it’ll be a milestone piece for us, and I know it’ll be popular in the live show,” Levin told Pledge Music, enthusing about the opportunity to “take the extra time to write great stuff, refine it, and have the mixing, mastering, and artwork done as well as the music deserves.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Tony Levin. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: LEGENDARY ROCK BASSIST TONY LEVIN Along the way, Levin has performed with everyone from King Crimson to John Lennon, from Pink Floyd to Buddy Rich, from Herbie Mann to Paul Simon. Levin has also released a series of well-received solo recordings — including Waters of Eden and the Grammy-nominated Pieces of the Sun — with Jerry Marotta and Larry Fast, cohorts from Peter Gabriel’s band. Sprinkled in between have been a series of live dates with the Stick Men. The busy bassist talks about 2011’s Levin Torn White album, as well as a few landmark moments from his fascinating career.

KING CRIMSON – LIVE IN ARGENTINA 1994 (2012): When King Crimson reconvened in 1994, the band was made up of the four-piece unit that recorded in the 1980s (guitarists Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew, bassist/Stickist Tony Levin, and drummer Bill Bruford) and a new pair of instrumentalists: Stick player Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto, both having worked with Fripp in the Sylvian/Fripp live band. The Double Trio set off to South America to play a small series of shows to work out the kinks, and this set captures two shows from the middle of that tour — the earliest video evidence of this band working live. It’s a thrilling thing to witness these two shows, afternoon and evening, on DVD, having never been available before.

LEVIN TORN WHITE – LEVIN TORN WHITE: (2011) Part prog, part free-form improvisational music, part noise rock, this album brought in each of its participant’s familiar textures and sounds, yet ended up somehow as something completely new. Tony Levin, David Torn and Alan White got there by building off live jams, with volume and distortion serving almost as additional members of the trio — something Levin talked about with us: “Good question about the distortion. There was a lot of it on this project. My opinion is that we just hear what the music is like, then respond the way our musical sense tells us to. In this case, it was with some heavy, gritty sounds. It wasn’t a plan at all; just the way the music took us.” We were happy to have been along for the ride — an often very boisterous, seatbelt-stretching ride.

ONE TRACK MIND: TONY LEVIN ON “BIG TIME,” “THRAK,” “LATE IN THE EVENING,” OTHERS: Find out more about the unique slap-bass sound he created in Gabriel’s hit song “Big Time.” Learn how an early-1980s gig alongside guitarist David Torn led to a fascinating 2011 trio project with drummer Alan White called Levin Torn White. Make connections from across his career back to White’s band Yes, and see how separate moments as a sideman with Paul Simon underscore the bassist’s celebrated changeability.

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