Something Else! sneak peek: Stick Men, “Hide the Trees” (2012)

A new track from the forthcoming album Deep illustrates the stirring narrative command that the Stick Men are bringing to this whale watching-themed project.

Deep, due on October 19, 2012, is being constructed as a tone poem that, by the time it gets to movement four, will feature the appearance of the long-sought-after whale. And with Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter, Tony Levin has finally constructed a lineup for the Stick Men that can accomplish such a complex thing — both in the studio, and live settings.

[STREAM IT HERE!: The new Stick Men track 'Hide the Trees' is streaming at pledgemusic.com; you can also download the song here - but for a limited time.]

Witness “Hide the Trees,” which leaps out with an angular force as the trio unravels the tune’s complexities — note by frisson-filled note. Finally, some two minutes in, “Trees” begins to slow into an almost unmusical cadence. Then, just like that, the Stick Men begin reassembling the song, one element at a time.

By the four-minute mark, “Hide the Trees” has reemerged once more as a propulsive juggernaut — but inextricably different: We can recognize, by then, elements of all of their biggest previous individual successes, from King Crimson to Peter Gabriel, but also Mr. Mister. As mathematically rebellious as this track no doubt is, there is a musicality to it that belies all of the band’s individual experiences — both within prog rock and outside of it.

Levin and Co. are telling stories — “Hide the Trees,” even with no lyrics, has a dramatic sweep — without resorting to musical cliches. They’re finding things new and distinctive in prog, without becoming trapped in it.

Find out more about the Stick Men’s upcoming release ‘Deep’ at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/stick-men-deep/updates.

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.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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