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Various Artists

Sticky Licks 2005 CD $15.
German Stick players compilation

If variety is the spice of life, these 16 artists (15 from Germany and one from Austria) deliver a highly varied compilation that showcases their diverse song-writing and playing talents which is sure to keep the listener’s palette entertained. Everything from simple solo Stick playing to loopy overdubs and full-blown orchestrations with drums, percussion and vocals is here.

The experience of many years of cumulative Stick playing shows in the shear variety of techniques. Thomas Ederer’s "Scenes from an African Market" presents a great example of this - muted tapping setting the stage for layer upon layer of sound. His solo sound recalls classical guitar but throws in pulloff trills and other rock elements.

Mathias Sorof’s "Sandteufel" presents a vintage Stick sound with all of the chimey high notes and slappy, percussive bass we associate with the instrument, but with his own harmonic understanding, and lyrical soloing.

The true masala on the record comes in Johannes Korn’s "Frederik Und Die Fünfte Herzkammer," which deftly presents taste after taste of deliciously processed sound, each within its own space and time so as not to be overshadowed by the others.

Things get heavy and proggy with Marc Menningmann’s "Virtual Time," and there’s even a cover of Don Henley’s "The Boys of Summer" complete with vocals.

Amid all of the intense productions are the spare and solo pieces, some deceptively simple, like Frank Heim’s "Rose" which weaves several simple elements together into a beautiful and restful moment. The record gives scant details about how the tracks were recorded, but if you want more information about the artists there are web links provided for each track.

There’s a great variety of instrumentation here - guitar, trombone, synths, vocals, drums, making this less a compilation of "Stick music," and more a reflection of a community of musicians. One can hear the years of absorbing influences from both inside and outside the Stick world (occasional shades of Cides, Culbertson, Baggerman, Chapman) as well as true individuality and unique creative voices.

It might seem like there are too many elements at work here for the record to be a success, but it all works well together. Thanks to thoughtful programming and excellent production, which glue all of these tracks together, instruments from different eras with different pickups and even MIDI sounds, playing vastly different styles all fit seamlessly together.

As a compilation, this one does exactly what it’s supposed to do on every level. Congratulations to Harald Rost and all of the contributors.

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