FreeForm Radio Program on Indefinite Hiatus

Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, my local public radio station facility is restricted to essential paid staff, so, as a volunteer, I am unable to do my regularly scheduled show.

I recommend that you join the KMXT FreeForm Radio Facebook group for the latest news on the show and frequent links to free downloads of all genres of progressive music.

You can also follow me on Bandcamp and search my collection for music played on past programs.  Many of the selections I have featured are available as free or low cost downloads.

Stay home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.  I look forward to playing music for you when this crisis subsides.

In the meantime, here is a great video of Van der Graaf Generator, recorded live in 1972.

17 March 2020: Music for Social Isolation: John McLaughlin / Drone Islands

John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain 

Is That So? 

Six years in the making, Is that So? is one of John McLaughlin's deepest and most profound musical collaborations with prolific Indian composer and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. Joining the duo is their life-long friend and musical brother Ustad Zakir Hussain on the tabla, who has been collaborating with John since they founded Shakti in the early '70s, acknowledged by most to be the first groundbreaking crossover East-West musical group. 'The idea for this album appeared in my mind early 2013. Shankar and I had been touring with Shakti and I was constantly inspired by his superb voice and gigantic talent. Even though I had studied the theory and practice of Indian music for years, I remain a 'Western' musician and one aspect of Western music is the magic of harmony', says John. 'From the outset in the early 1970's, I constantly researched the possibilities of integrating harmony into the traditions of North and South India while at the same time keeping as close as possible to the melodic rules of the Raga system. However, the idea I mention above, was to abandon the rules of the Raga system completely and apply my own western harmonic liberty to the amazing voice of Shankar Mahadevan. ''Before concerts, John and I used to dabble with free improvisations using Indian scales (Ragas) and different harmonies backing them', says Shankar Mahadevan. 'The whole texture, color, feeling and the canvas of the music excited us as harmonic content does not exist in Indian classical music. In the beginning it was just a fun experiment, but it soon became larger than life and we knew we had to record it. When Zakir Hussain, the great tabla Maestro himself agreed to play in the improvisational sections we knew this would take our recording to a new level. We could not have asked for more. Is that So? is a a new concept in the meeting of musicians, singers, percussionists and the musical cultures of the East and West and takes us into unexplored musical horizons.  


2nd volume of the series Drone Islands, "Drone Islands - The Lost Maps" continues Eighth Tower Records' deep explorations into the realm of "droning music". Alongside drone ambient music masters like TROUM, Rapoon, Schloss Tegal, Autopsia, and well known dark ambient projects like Alphaxone, Taphephobia, the volume presents experimentalists such Simon Balestrazzi, Trauma Terrestrial, as well extremely interesting young musicians like Gaspar Peralta. Solid realities and new promises is a sign of the best international drone music.

Raffaele Pezzella


released January 31, 2020


Santa Sangre

Musique Machine


Rosa Selvaggia

Head-Banger Reviews

© Eighth Tower Records
Curated by Raffaele Pezzella (a.k.a. Sonologyst)
Artwork: Francesco Di Stasio
Mastering: Sonologyst
200 copies limited edition CD
© All rights reserved


all rights reserved


14 January 2020: Nigel Mullaney / Cool Spring / Bernhard Wostheinrich

Nigel Mullaney is a familiar name for followers of the DiN label with his early releases with label boss Ian Boddy under the name of Dub Atomica as well as his album with Ray Sherwin, “Music By Mirrors” (DiN38) under the moniker of Mazmoneth. More recently he has been working with Boddy utilising modular synth systems at several venues including the recently released download album “Schemes & Ruses” (DiNDDL23) recorded at the Capstone Theatre in Liverpool.

It thus comes as somewhat of a surprise that “31 Days” is his first solo album on DiN. It’s genesis came about through a musical challenge he set himself to compose a track a day for the entire month of January 2018. In the studio and on the road he explored sonic improvisations using a range of portable modular synthesisers as well as a selection of analogue keyboards and vintage outboard gear. Essentially each of the tracks is a live recording with no overdubs or additional stem mixing.

This resulted in over 4 hours of material that Ian Boddy carefully listened through and curated into a track list which represents a 70 minute cross section of Mullaney’s 31 day musical odyssey. As with Boddy’s DiN iNDEX sampler albums the music ebbs and flows from gloriously cinematic orchestral textures through to wonderfully rhythmic drum and sequencer tracks laced with cutting edge sound design and first class production values.

To quote Mullaney, “as the days and weeks progressed I found myself connected with my music and art like never before. It simply flowed through me”. The music certainly reflects this with a fresh and vibrant feel that showcases a talented musician at the top of their game.


releases January 17, 2020

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”

Ray Bradbury

I’ve been told on many occasions that I think way too much…. After years of working on commissions and interpreting clients concepts of what music has to sound like I had found myself in a creative blackhole. Over thinking and over analysing music had separated me from the art of creative expression, improvisation and musical freedom.

I had a plan to fix this, a challenge I had contemplated undertaking for a number of years - to compose, programme, perform and record one track a day for 31 consecutive days. In the studio and on the road I began to explore sonic improvisations and soundscapes without any self conscious preconceptions, and as the days and weeks progressed I found myself connected with my music and art like never before. It simply flowed through me.

Essentially what you have here is a live album, using modular synthesisers, a selection of analog keyboards and vintage outboard gear. The music was performed and recorded directly into a Tascam Stereo DSD recorder with no overdubs and no additional stem mixing. After presenting Ian Boddy with over 4 hours of music he applied his expert critical listening and curated a track list which represents a 70 minute cross section from my 31 Day musical journey.

Nigel Christopher Mullaney 01.10.19

Special thanks to :

Jonathan Paul Jowett - Phoenix Creative Media Ltd
Ian Boddy - DiN Records
Jennifer Leggett
Wendy Carroll
Ben Wilson - DivKid Ben
Robin Rimbaud - Scanner
Dan Wahlbeck - DPW Design
Ickle Boo & The Boys

This one's for you Dad x 

Materiaal Series, Part XXIII

Performed and recorded live on October 6, 2018 at Orion Studios, Baltimore, MD, USA, as an opener for the legendary Soft Machine.

ECM recording artist David Rothenberg wrote Why Birds Sing, published in six languages and turned into a BBC TV show. He has written other books about making music with whales and bugs, has sixteen CDs out and his latest book, CD, and film is called Nightingales in Berlin.

Jay Nicholas, bass player extraordinaire and legendary studio engineer, has worked at Chung King Studios with the likes of David Bowie, Wyclef Jean, the Neville Brothers and the Wu-Tang Clan.

watch the drop!


released December 13, 2019

Bernhard Wöstheinrich: keyboards and virtual synthesizers, live-sequencing
David Rothenberg: clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and iPad
Jay Nicholas: bass & wavedrum

Performed and recorded live at Orion Studios, Baltimore, MD, USA, October 6, 2018

Mixed and mastered by Markus Reuter

Artwork by Christine Kriegerowski
Video by Jefferson Ogata

Special thanks to Leonardo Pavkovic, Mike Potter, Joe Tracey and Chris Baker







David and Bernhard have been playing together for three years, and it happens whenever the two are in the same country.
Last October we found them both in the Hudson Valley of New York, where they were joined in the studio by bass player and producer Jay Nicholas in the village where David and Jay live, definitely a Cool Spring.

ECM recording artist David Rothenberg wrote Why Birds Sing, published in six languages and turned into a BBC TV show. He has written other books about making music with whales and bugs, has sixteen CDs out and is working on a book about the nightingales of Berlin and the musicians who play with them.

Bernhard leads his own solo project "The Redundant Rocker" and among others he has collaborated with Markus Reuter (in centrozoon) Tim Motzer, Ian Boddy, No-Man singer Tim Bowness, Conrad Schnitzler†, and Erik Wøllo. Bernhard elicits meaning from abstraction in electronic music and painting. He has studied graphic design and has created an eclectic body of work in both graphics and music. Using a compositional approach akin to his work as a visual artist, Bernhard usually begins by improvising abstract sonic structures which are subsequently developed into an increasingly detailed aural picture.

Jay Nicholas, bass player extraordinaire and legendary studio engineer, has worked at Chung King Studios with the likes of David Bowie, Wyclef Jean, the Neville Brothers and the Wu-Tang Clan.


released March 18, 2016

David Rothenberg: clarinet, bass clarinet, contralto clarinet
Bernhard Wöstheinrich: keyboards and electronics
Jay Nicholas: bass

Performed and recorded on B Street, October 2015

Mixed and mastered by Markus Reuter

Artwork by Christine Kriegerowski
Special thanks to George "G$" Bley

07 January 2020: Blow Up Hollywood / Reza Solatipour / Persian Experimental Music

In light of recent events, it is appropriate to feature this superb 2006 release from Blow Up Hollywood.

Blow Up Hollywood’s third studio album,  The Diaries of Private Henry Hill, is based on the journals of a young soldier who died tragically in the Iraq War. This concept album narrates a first-hand account of the transformation of a real man from citizen to soldier to killer to martyr.
The Diaries of Private Henry Hill is Blow Up Hollywood’s follow-up to the critically heralded 2004 album Fake.

Blow Up Hollywood is an underground American rock band. Their eclectic sound, built over a decade of recording, incorporates many different styles, diverse as progressive rock, post-rock, experimental, pop, classical, jazz and ambient soundscapes. Founded by Steve Messina and Nik Chinboukas in 2001, the group has evolved into more of a collective than a band, as some of their members have changed over the years.
Their debut, self-titled CD, is a concept album about death and the afterlife. The CD was recorded in a beach house in West Hampton, New York, over the course of three weeks in March 2001, and was released the following year. Originally the recording was intended to be just a “musical vacation” amongst friends who had performed and recorded together in various groups and projects throughout the years. But after hearing the results, and enjoying the collaboration, they decided to release it, with Blow Up Hollywood as their moniker.
Their sophomore CD, Fake, was released in 2004, and garnished critical acclaim.
In September 2004, John Diliberto, the host of the radio show Echoes, ran a feature on the band and had them perform live on air, bringing them national attention. That same year their live version of the song “beyond the stars” was included on the Echo’s compilation CD, alongside artists Yo-Yo Ma, Kai King, and Will Ackerman.
Stars End – A one track ambient improvisation, was recorded live on November 14, 2004, at WXPN in Philadelphia. The CD is titled after Chuck Van Zyl’s show Star’s End which has aired every Saturday night since 1976. “We asked Chuck what we should play, and he gave us free reign. So we improvised for an hour”, one of the band members stated.
In 2006 the band released what would become their most popular CD, both nationally and internationally. With the debate over the war in Iraq raging, the band released another concept album, The Diaries of Private Henry Hill. Based on the journal entries of a young, deceased soldier from the Iraq war, Blow Up Hollywood takes us on Private Henry Hill’s surreal journey as he joins the army out of necessity rather than patriotism.
That same year the album was released, Amy Goodman, the host of the news show Democracy Now! (a daily TV/radio news program, airing on over 900 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States) championed the band and the video for the song WMD, playing it repeatedly on her show for weeks.
Rachael Maddow, the then host of The Rachael Maddow show on Air America Radio, also invited the band to perform live and discuss the CD. And many other songs from the Diaries record were featured on NPR‘s program All Things Considered.
In 2008, the band was invited by Tomas Young (an injured American soldier from the Iraq war ) and Eddie Vedder (the lead vocalist of the American rock band Pearl Jam) to have WMD included on the compilation soundtrack to the documentary film Body of War, alongside Bruce SpringsteenNeil YoungTori AmosTom WaitsRoger Waters (founding member of Pink Floyd), and Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam.
In 2011 Steve Messina, Nik Chinboukas and Thad Debrock joined forces to write, produce, and record with photographer and conceptual artist Andres Serrano, with Blow Up Hollywood as his backing band. They released the recording under the name Brutus Faust.

In the second half of tonight's show, we will feature Tehran musician, Reza Solatipour, and his 2019 dark ambient release, The Gate.  Our thanks to Raffaele Pezzella and the Unexplained Sounds Group for providing us with a promotional copy of this album.

It came clear, in recent years, that drone & dark ambient music from Iran made a considerable statement among the followers of this music genre. Reza Solapitour, from Tehran, was among the most talented Iranian projects alongside with Xerxes The Dark, Alphaxone, idft. His music was published on the prestigious compilation “Visions of Darkness” curated by Raffaele Pezzella and co-released by Unexplained Sounds Group / Cold Spring Records.


released November 23, 2019



Avant Music News

Head-Banger Reviews

Music recorded in Tehran by Reza Solapitour
Artwork: Eliphas Üsher (IÖR)
Mastering: Sonologyst
© Eighth Tower Records / Industrial Olocaust Recordings

17 December 2019: A FreeForm Bob Rivers Comedy Corp Twisted Christmas

Join us for a FreeForm Radio holiday tradition, Twisted Christmas, as we spotlight hilarious Christmas song parodies from the Bob Rivers Comedy Corp.   We'll also hear tunes from the Capitol Steps, the Fools, Mojo Nixon, John Prine, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and others.  There will be COWS!!!
Both Elvis AND Sarah Palin will be on the show - you won't want to miss it!

Tune in to the Tuesday Morning Show at 9 am for a preview of tonight's show after the Island Messenger.

And it's not too late to pledge your support to public radio KMXT online at

10 December 2019: Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra: Live At The Festival Hall

Following a sensational 2018 UK tour, legendary guitarist Steve Hackett has announced the release of a 2CD + Blu-Ray digipak titled 'Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra: Live at the Royal Festival Hall' on 25th October 2019 via InsideOutMusic.
The album was recorded on 5th October 2018 at The Royal Festival Hall, London, during the 2018 Genesis Revisited Tour which fulfilled a long held ambition of Steve's: to perform the music of Genesis with a live orchestra. The concert featured Steve's regular touring band of Roger King (keyboards), Gary O'Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes) with Nad Sylvan on vocals and Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings) on bass, together with special guests John Hackett and Amanda Lehmann, and augmented by the 41-piece Heart Of England Orchestra conducted by Bradley Thachuk.
Steve commented - "It was a fantastic experience for both the band and myself to play alongside an orchestra and to feel the power of the sound this extraordinary combo created. It sounds equally compelling on both film and audio. I'm proud to release this exciting product."
The 2CD set includes tracks from Steve's time with Genesis and also from his extensive solo career.
* Please note that:
Blu-Ray has concert (stereo + 5.1 audio), documentary, promo videos
DVD only has the concert (stereo + 5.1 audio), no extras.
The full track-listing is:
2CD & Blu-Ray Digipak Tracklisting
CD 1:
1. Dance On A Volcano
2. Out Of The Body
3. The Steppes
4. Firth of Fifth
5. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
6. Blood On The Rooftops
8. Shadow of the Hierophant

CD 2:
1. In That Quiet Earth
2. Afterglow
3. Serpentine Song
4. El Nino
5. Supper's Ready
10. The Musical Box

The Blu-Ray digipak also includes a behind the scenes documentary plus promotional videos for Under The Eye Of The Sun, Beasts In Our Time and Peace.

03 December 2019: Ian Boddy & Nigel Mullaney; Intergalactic Touring Band

Concerts are unique experiences especially when the musicians on stage are improvising. Tracks grow and build only to be torn down and from the sonic debris the next piece slowly coalesces and takes its own shape.

This organic process comes naturally to DiN label boss Ian Boddy and his long time musical collaborator Nigel Mullaney. They have between them a wealth of experience both on the DiN label and in the commercial world of music production. Utilising an array of modular synth racks as well as hands on sequencers and drum machines the duo can constantly mold and shape their performances. Along with Boddy’s signature Ondes Martenot synth lead lines and Mullaney’s tasty Moog keyboard licks Schemes & Ruses is an audio document of their performance at the Capstone Theatre in Liverpool on 2nd March 2019. The evening was a celebration of the DiN label and it’s 20th year anniversary and the duo were supported by d’Voxx who recently released their debut album Télégraphe (DiN58) on the label.

The music starts in mysterious fashion with the enigmatic “Hidden Rooms” which builds to an astonishing orchestral climax before the steady, insistent drum grooves of Mullaney take over. Boddy’s Berlin School tinted sequence lines intertwine with these rhythms as the performance takes the listener on a sonic journey from ambient atmospheres to toe tapping slices of up tempo electronica that slowly increase in intensity to the heavily sequenced encore track “Showdown”.

Released on the download only sub-label of DiN Schemes & Ruses showcases two musicians whose natural habitat is as much on the stage as in a studio and captures a mesmerising one off evening of live electronic music.


released November 15, 2019

All tracks composed, played and produced by Ian Boddy & Nigel Mullaney.

Recorded live at the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool on 2nd March 2019.

Mixed & mastered by Nigel Mullaney (May 2019).

Cover image Wendy Carroll
Concert promotion Neil Campbell
Sound engineer & lights David Williams

Ian Boddy:
Eurorack modular, Roland System 500, Analogue Systems French Connection, Folktek Resonant Garden

Nigel Mullaney:
Eurorack modular, Polyend SEQ, Elektron Digitone & Digitaky, Moog Sub37

Intergalactic Touring Band

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Intergalactic Touring Band Album Cover
The Intergalactic Touring Band (IGTB) was not an actual music group but rather a science fiction pop music concept album released in 1977 by the now defunct Passport Records in America and Charisma Records in England. The ensemble album featured many star performers from progressive rock and other genres, including Meat LoafBen E. KingLarry Fast (Synergy), Percy JonesAnnie HaslamRod ArgentPeppi Marchello (Good Rats),[1] and many others. The songs are loosely held together by an epic theme of multi-generational space travel and human space colonization.

Fictional band members[edit]

  • Hope Larson — Lase Keyboard Panel
  • Ixol Phaane — Computerized Keyboard Synthesis
  • Justice Conrad — Globe Lase Base
  • Krys — Holographic Percussion
  • Raif Reed — Lase Guitar

List of songs and performers[edit]

Approach (Overture)
Silver Lady
Universal Zoo/Why
  • Lead vocal, "Universal Zoo": Arthur Brown
  • Lead vocal, "Why": Joel Krantz
  • Electric guitars: David Scance
  • Fender bass: Peter Sobel
  • Fretless Bass on "Why": Percy Jones
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Primitive percussion: Paul Marchetti, Marty Scott, Peter Sobel
  • Synthesizers and vocoder: Larry Fast
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson
  • Additional vocals: Marty Scott, Peter Sobel, Bill Guerra
  • Orchestral arrangement: Danny Beckerman
  • Effects vocal: "The Boss"
Starship Jingle
  • Lead vocal: Peppi Marchello (misspelled Pepe in album credits)
  • Electric and acoustic guitars: David Scance
  • Electric Autoharp: Marty Scott
  • Fender bass: Peter Sobel
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • FlutesJohn Zangrando
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson
  • Prepared effects: Larry Fast, Marty Scott, Peter Sobel
  • Orchestral arrangement: Wil Malone, Stephan Galfas
  • Lead vocal: Dave Cousins
  • Electric and acoustic guitars: David Scance
  • Bass guitar: Peter Sobel
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • Flutes: John Zangrando
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson
  • Orchestral arrangement: David Bedford, Stephan Galfas
Reaching Out
First Landing
  • Lead vocal: Steve Barth
  • Electric and acoustic guitars: David Scance
  • Bass guitar: Frank Prescod and Peter Sobel
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Additional percussion: Mighty Young Joe Intile, B. E.
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • Orchestral arrangement: Wil Malone and Danny Beckerman
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson
  • Additional vocals: The Passport Munchkins
Space Commando
  • Lead vocal: Mr. Snips
  • Electric and acoustic guitars: David Scance
  • Bass guitar: Peter Sobel
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Additional percussion: Marty Scott
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • Orchestral arrangement: David Bedford and Stephan Galfas
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson
Robot Salesman
  • Lead vocal: Jim Cuomo
  • Electric and acoustic guitars: David Scance
  • Electric guitar: Ryche Chlanda
  • Acoustic guitar: Peter Sobel
  • Bass guitar: Frank Prescod
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Synthesizers, Mellotron and vocoder: Larry Fast
  • Orchestral arrangement: Stephan Galfas and Brian Cuomo
Love Station
  • Lead vocal: Ben E. King
  • Electric guitars: John Tropea
  • Bass guitar: Frank Prescod
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Additional percussion: Peter Sobel
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • Saxophone soloClarence Clemons
  • Guitar solo: John Tropea
  • Orchestral arrangement: David Bedford, Stephan Galfas and Brian Cuomo
  • Background vocals: Janice Pendarvis and Friends
A Planet Called Monday/Epilogue
  • Lead vocal, "A Planet Called Monday": Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt
  • Lead vocal, "Epilogue": Jeffrey Leynor
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson, David Scance
  • Orchestral arrangement: Danny Beckerman
  • Electric guitars: David Scance
  • Bass guitar: Peter Sobel
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
Keeper Keep Us
  • Lead vocal: Meat Loaf
  • Electric and acoustic guitars: David Scance
  • Acoustic and bass guitars: Peter Sobel
  • Fretless bass: Percy Jones
  • Keyboards: Brian Cuomo
  • Drums and percussion: Paul Marchetti
  • Synthesizers: Larry Fast
  • Group vocals: Joel Krantz, Frank D'Agostino, Shelley Thompson
  • Orchestral arrangement: Wil Malone

26 November 2019: Stick Men with David Cross, Live in San Jose, Costa Rica

Tonight we'll play an entire show from 2018, recorded in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Stick Men — touch guitarist Markus Reuter, bassist/Stick player Tony Levin and percussionist Pat Mastelotto — have been expanding the frontiers of progressive music since 2007.  With a repertoire that encompasses Levin & Mastelotto’s legacy in King Crimson, Reuter’s innovative soundscapes and searing improvisations, 4 studio albums as a group and even Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, they are the real deal, whether as a self-contained unit or joined by other groundbreaking musicians.  I heard them live in 2011 when they toured with The Adrian Belew Power Trio, both performing their own music and joining Belew’s band for an awe-inspiring set of Crimson classics.
In August and September 2018, Stick Men teamed with violinist David Cross (best known for his contributions to King Crimson from 1972 to 1974), touring ten countries in Latin America.  The results are documented on the new Panamerica, due for release in September.  Expanding on previous live Stick Men releases Midori (recorded with Cross in Japan) and Roppongi  (recorded with saxophonist Mel Collins), the set will include:
  •   A complete show recorded live in Costa Rica
  • “Pan America Specials” recorded live in Argentina and Brazil
  • “Pan America Suites” recorded live in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay
  • “Fire Starters”, a continuous mix of selected Cross/Reuter show opening pieces
Go here for all the details!
— Rick Krueger

Disc III – Full Show, Part 1 (Costa Rica)

3-1 Opening Improv
3-2 Hide The Trees
3-3 Cusp
3-4 The Talking Drum
3-5 Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part II
3-6 Crack In The Sky
3-7 David’s Improv
3-8 Schattenhaft
3-9 Sartori In Tangier
3-10 Swimming In T

Disc IV – Full Show, Part 2 (Costa Rica)

4-1 Plutonium
4-2 Red
4-3 Mantra
4-4 Prog Noir
4-5 Shades Of Starless
4-6 Level 5
4-7 OPEN

Scott Medina writes:

As they cross the globe celebrating their 50th Anniversary, the mighty King Crimson continue to leave their mark on progressive rock in more ways than one, not the least being the many offshoot ProjeKcts and other ensembles that have been spawned in their wake. Such is the pedigree and devotion of the musicians involved that even when Robert Fripp himself isn’t in a particular grouping, the aura of his influence is still felt yet again. Cue the music of… Stick Men.
Although Stick Men is primarily the trio of Markus Reuter and Crimson alumni Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto, they truly come into their own when joined by special guest David Cross on violin and keyboards. With three different decades represented from Crimson’s history – Cross starting in the 70s, Levin in the 80s and Mastelotto in the 90s – there is more than enough credibility to include a healthy dose of material from that band in the Stick Men set-list. Equally important as any specific songs “covered” in the set is the ethos of the musicians’ approach, which is heavily rooted in improvisation. And this is why a 5-disc set recounting the band’s travels across Central and South America may be of interest to their more devoted fans, though not an ideal starting point for a newcomer. “PanAmerica”’s main full show, which comprises Discs 3 & 4, has many of the same selections as their previous 2015 release “Midori – Live in Tokyo” which also featured Cross with the band. But as many Crimson aficionados will attest – given the endless supply of multi-disc live boxed sets continuously emerging from that band’s history – more is never enough, as there are innumerable nuances and variations on display in each song and improvisation as they are played night after night. In this case, not only has an excellent full show been captured live in Costa Rica, but the remaining 3 discs offer a deep dive into the improvisational nature of the band, culled from shows in several different countries.
Let’s start with the complete show first. The mix is considerably different from the “Midori” release, which will give completists a new vantage point from the get-go. After the traditional beginning with an “Improv”, the band launch into two of their fine original pieces “Hide the Trees” and “Cusp”, both of which establish the strength of Cross’ inclusion to the band. As a trio, Stick Men produce a dizzying amount of sounds: Mastelotto’s wide-reaching attack on his extensive percussive kit, Levin’s stick playing serving the role of a bassist and guitarist simultaneously, and Reuter’s Touch guitars and other effects soaring high overhead. Adding Cross into the mix is a secret weapon which enables them to more fully traverse the thrilling terrain of “Red”, “The Talking Drum” and “Larks Tongues in Aspic II”, and of course brings additional color to their improvisational nature. It feels like a natural fit, and the members themselves aren’t shy about praising one another. It’s endearing to hear Cross call Stick Men “The best rock band in the world!”
While much of the material is instrumental, a few pieces feature spoken word or sung vocals, offering a nice contrast. One of the most successful of these is “Crack in the Sky” which features Tony Levin’s smoky spoken vocals over an atmospheric groove, not unlike Robbie Robertson’s “Somewhere down the Crazy River” on which Levin also played bass. Reuter gets to have fun with his spoken section on the quirky “Plutonium”, and of course who wouldn’t love the genre’s theme song “Prog Noir”, sung by Levin? With blistering versions of Crimson’s “Level Five”, original pieces “Schattenhaft” and “Mantra” and much more, there’s plenty of material to keep Stick fans happy, as well as a generous dose of between-song banter and stories. You can even learn how to properly count-out “Mantra”’s time signatures, a much more daunting proposition than “We Will Rock You”.
“Panamerica” Box Set Artwork
The real depth of this box set reveals itself in the other 3 discs, all of which are largely improvised. Disc 1 plays with extended and shorter versions of improv-based songs that are present in their regular concert set on Discs 3 & 4. For example, “Swimming in T” has a longer version on Disc 1 in addition to two shorter “Swimming Improvs” as well; the “Opening Improv” on Disc 1 is 12 minutes longer than the full-concert version on Disc 3, and we get two versions of the track “Open” as well as “Shades of Starless” which is a meditation on the Crimson classic. Disc 5 immerses the listener into soundscapes: relatively shorter ambient pieces which are heavy on the synth and without percussive accompaniment. These actually were sourced from using only the isolated improvised parts of Markus and David. The songs have been edited to run into each other without any audience applause, so the result feels like one continuous studio recording for the entire disc. Finally, Disc 2 features 4 longer “Suites” with each track being sourced from 3 separate pieces and then titled for the region in which they were played. These are the most interactive and engaging improvs of the lot, with some delightful percussion from Mastelotto, Levin’s stick holding down the lower end while Cross and Reuter unleash frenzied playing over top on “Montevideo Suite”.
The box set itself is beautifully packaged, featuring artwork by Hajo Müller with slip case, individual jackets for the CDs plus a 24-page booklet with exclusive tour photographs by Tony Levin. The music of Stick Men is not for everyone, and being that this 5-disc set focuses so much on improvisation it is likely that a newcomer would be overwhelmed. But for the faithful, this approach offers an immersive exploration into the development of the band over the length of the tour. And let us not forget that experimentation such as this is surely one aspect of what “progressive” music is all about.
Released by: Iapetus / MoonJune Records
Released Date: November 8th, 2019
Genre: Progressive Rock


  • Tony Levin / Chapman Stick, Voice
  • Pat Mastelotto / Acoustic Drums, Electronic Drums, Percussion
  • Markus Reuter / Touch Guitar, Electronics Soundscapes, Keyboards
  • David Cross / Electric Violin, Keyboards