Stick Men is a progressive rock band founded in 2007 by drummer Pat Mastelotto and Stickists Tony Levin and Michael Bernier. Since 2010, the lineup stabilized around Mastelotto, Levin and Markus Reuter. The band was formed as a vehicle for progressive rock music performed almost exclusively with Sticks and drums.
In 2007, Levin released a solo album entitled Stick Man, consisting of pieces recorded on the Chapman Stick, featuring his King Crimson bandmate Pat Mastelotto on drums. This then led to the formation of the band Stick Men by Mastelotto, Levin and Chapman Stick player Michael Bernier. The band released its first album Soup in 2010. Bernier left shortly after the release of Soup, to be replaced by Markus Reuter in early August 2010.
The new lineup released the CD Absalom, in 2011, and an album of improvisations, Open, in June 2012. A studio album titled Deep was released in February 2013. There is a special edition including a DVD. The album features heavy rock pieces that are mostly instrumental with exceptions like Horatio featuring Pat Mastelotto on vocals. The album also includes 11 minute tone poem Whale Watch based on Tony Levin's experiences taking whale watching trips out of Boston.
In January 2014, the band released their first live album called Power Play.
In October 2014, Stick Men released their first retrospective album. A double album, the first disc featured studio recordings, while the second was a compilation of various recorded live improvisations the band performed on tour. Also included on the album are remixes and remakes of various other Stick Men songs.
Stylistically, Stick Men's sound is quite unique. Touting the fact that their lead musicians are "playing instruments unlike any other," their music has evolved to be somewhere between Art Rock, Progressive Rock, and in some cases Progressive Metal. There is a heavy influence of free music and improvisation during their live shows, as the musicians will often showcase their prowess on their respective instruments in extended free music jams. Most notably, the band honors their connection and tenure with King Crimson by performing songs by the band as well as songs by Robert Fripp, King Crimson's lead member and guitarist. Stick Men has also composed an abridged version of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite", a staple of their live shows.
Most of their compositions are instrumental, with very few songs featuring vocals, mostly by Levin, but occasionally by Reuter and Mastelotto as well. During his time with the band following the release of "Soup", Bernier provided vocals on some songs.