The Stick Center in Spain
Guillermos Cides's Stick Center has
released its first compilation of 22 Stick artists from seven countries:
Stickistas, a Compilation of the Art of Hispanic Chapman Stick Players and
CD $15, is now available from Stick Enterprises.
Review by Greg Howard
As unique an instrument as The Stick may be in the world of music, the
phenomenon of people coming together to pursue a common interest is as old
as the cave. So it should be no surprise to find that Guillermo Cides's
Stick Center in Spain has released this compilation of music by like-minded
What is surprising, however, is finding such a diversity of musical visions
so well tied together. Cides's influence as the Center's founder is more
behind the scenes in this compilation album, not so much expressed in the
musical styles as in the "ethic" of the school he has nurtured.
There are also contributions from several Stickistas outside of Spain, who
have been simultaneously pursuing their own art. This is a truly contemporary
collection of original music, with varying degrees of influential Spanish and
Latin-American rhythms, harmonies and instruments woven into the mix. Cides
has explored diverse genres himself, from Bach to progressive rock, and he
has delivered it all impressively by wielding his Stick and array of
electronics to craft a sound that is unmistakable. An occasional reflection
of that sound emerges from this new release, but each track is distinguishable
and unique, reflecting more of Cides's international reach as an influential
artist than as an organizer.
These 22 tracks come from Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile
and the US. Stick®, Grand Stick® and Stick Bass® are all presented
solo and in concert with everything from traditional flamenco percussion and
classical guitar to synths, electric guitar, and sampled percussion and loops.
They are all very brief (from 2:07 to 4:34). This fact and an excellent
mastering job by Tónica Records' Guillermo Zuloaga give the record a
great flow that's never jarring, even when making dramatic stylistic shifts.
The anthemic "Concerto for Stick" by Spanish 10-string player Juan
Serna, is a perfect entrée – intricate "fingersticking"
patterns and overdubbed melodic lines that stretch the initially simple
harmony rising ever higher and higher, driven on by "marching" hand
percussion. Two Argentines follow with a perfect pairing of classical guitar
(M. Torres) and its contemporary electric extension, the Stick Bass (Miguel
López), in "Gauchito" a duet accompanied by shakers, hand
drums and claves. It's great to hear Stick Bass played like this, clearly the
next generation in a long line of instruments that started in Spain with the
guitar. Two later tracks each present a different take on the Stick Bass,
Brazilian Andreas Guenther's catchy pop tune "Crónica" with
its seamless layers of overdubbed bass, rhythm, melody, solo and textural
parts, and Argentine Gustavo Vidal's wispy interlaced solo "Los
Recuerdos." These two pieces are thoroughly contemporary in their
On "Alrededor del Chapman Stick" Spain's Guialberto plays
nylon-stringed guitar and 10-string Stick over a slow flamenco rhythm track,
and then throws in electric guitar, dobro, and sitar to complete his lilting
pan-cultural overdubbed ensemble. José Albarracín (Argentina)
explores some surprising harmonic twists and turns on this tango-inspired
duet with electric guitarist E. Pucci. Here we can hear something of Cides's
sonic influence, but the melody and harmony are distinctly
Whatever role the players assume in presenting their music, the clear focus
of this compilation is on the compositions. Stickistas
"soul" as opposed to "chops", though there is some
brilliant and intense soloing, as on "Grabado en el Cerebro," by
the Uruguayan duet of Stickist Zecharies and Zendrummer Boismenu.
The liner notes declare:
The artists who we have presented here are not the best artists.
To be the best one would imply a weight too big and too ephemeral.
They have made their own universe molded by hand
An artful conveyance of this concept shows up in the images presented
throughout the package, photographs of contemporary ceramics by artist
It's not until track #7 that we get our first of three vocal tunes,
"Amor de Bandoneón," a heavy rocker sung by American
Sticksit/vocalist Linda Cushma, with Cides on Stick and Primus drummer Tim
Alexander. According to the liner notes this track will be on a forthcoming
release by this trio. Like so many of the songs here, it has a strong,
memorable melody. The other two vocal tracks are more along the lines of
"electronica" from two Spanish players Germán Fas, and Pat
Benadon Oks's group Microchic.
The rest of the instrumental pieces are all over the map in terms of
arrangement, style, instrumentation, electronic treatments. More recent
influences like King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno are as clear as
the traditional ones. One sonic standout is the beautiful, high-energy
"Stick Dúo" by Cabezas de Cera's Mauricio Sotelo and Hugo
Santos (Mexico), just two Sticks without effects.
Rather than delve into each track, though, it seems most fitting to let the
listener discover them as presented. I'd suggest istening from the beginning
to the end in one sitting if you can. Don't stop until you've gone all the
way through the bonus track, a duet by Cides and Emmett Chapman.
"Gonnawannaland" can best be described as two musicians each doing
what they do best, together for the first time. While Cides lays down a lush,
expansive electrified soundscape, Emmett dances around his Spanish Gypsy
modes. I'll leave the rest to your imagination, and theirs.
Here are some words
from Cides about the project:
Many years have passed since The Stick first came to be in my hands,
along with the passing of thousands of concerts, many tours, overseas travels,
original compositions, and personal connections made with this instrument.
So, you can imagine what it means to me to have produced this Stickistas
Compilation and to have recorded this song with Emmett Chapman. I am grateful
to him for his confidence and enthusiasm in making this collaboration together
as a part of the CD album. Emmett has a musicality that is very special and
ingenious, as much so as the instrument that he invented.
© Stick Center Archives
1 Diego Blanco (Argentina)
2 Gustavo Vidal (Argentina)
3 Matias Betti (Argentina)
4 Xavi Oro (Spain)
5 Dirseus (Argentina)
6 José Albarracín (Argentina)
7 Andreas Guenther (Brasil)
8 Miguel Menocal (Spain)
9 Teddy Baxter (Spain)
10 Silvio Paredes (Chile)
11 Juan Serna (Spain)
12 Zecharies-Boismenu (Uruguay)
13 Gualberto (Spain)
14 Germán Fas (Spain)
15 Mauricio Manchón (Argentina)
16 Sotelo-Santos (Mexico)
17 Pablo Gigliotti (Argentina)
18 Bernardo Dominguez (Argentina)
19 Pat Benadón (Spain)
20 Cides-Cushma-Alexander (preview future album)
21 and 22 Cides and Emmett Chapman (Bonus track, inedit song)
For more information about the recording
and Guillermo Cides's Stick
Center in Spain, please visit
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