Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Expand Your Musical Palette With New Releases From Soft Works and Stick Men

Back in December, Moonjune Records officially released the only live album from the Soft Machine spin-off band, Soft Works. This line-up of the band, which consisted of Elton Dean on sax, Allan Holdsworth on guitar, Hugh Hopper on bass and John Marshall on drums only existed for a couple years and released one studio album titled "Abracadabra." The foursome did tour in America, Japan, Italy and Mexico, before the untimely passing of Elton Dean in 2007 closed out that chapter of Soft Works.

This new release titled "Abracadabra In Osaka" features one of Soft Works only known live recordings, which was never officially released, until now. The show was carefully restored, enhanced and mastered by Mark Wingfield, who does an exceptional job bringing the music to life. This new two-disc set is highlighted by the interweaving of notes, as the band support each other on songs like "Alphrazallan" and "Baker's Test." Their progressive rock side shows up on the eight-minute "Kings & Queens," along with the aggressive jazz fusion of "Has Riff," which sounds like each instrument is fighting for the right to be heard. Soft Works closes the show with a wildly exciting, energetic version of the Soft Machine original "Facelift." To find out more about this new release from Soft Works titled "Abracadabra In Osaka," please visit softmachine-moonjune.bandcamp.com.

Another newly released live album documents the only show performed by the Stick Men in 2020. What was supposed to be a ten-date Far East tour, turned into one show at the the Blue Note Nagoya in Japan, due to political unrest and the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus. So members, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter and Gary Husband performed and recorded their one and only show, which was tiled simply "Owari" (which translates to "the end") and was released in October of last year.

This eleven track release showcases the Stick Men prepared to takeover with their unique brand of progressive rock/jazz music. The music explodes during the hard rock edginess of "Hide The Trees," as Gary Husband's keyboard work adds another dimension to their sound. The addition of the King Crimson classic "Larks' Tongue In Aspic, Part II" really brings the band's musical talents to the spotlight, as the looseness of their performance only adds to the band's identity. Stick Men pick up the energy with the quick moving "Schattenhalt," before taking you on a slow-moving, ambient journey with "Crack In The Sky." They experiment with the spontaneity of "Owari," before finishing with the floating melody of "Swimming In The T" and the sixteen-minute, spaced-out bonus track "The End Of The Tour." To find out more about Stick Men and their latest release "Owari," please visit stickmen-moonjune.bandcamp.com.

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