Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

188

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Holon

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count
Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Holon It may seem odd to begin a CD review by expressing gratitude over its length, but there you have it. Pianist Nik Bärtsch's Holon, with his Ronin group, is a shade under 56 minutes and it is to his credit that he understands that with his particular brand of music, less is more. Like a walk on a foggy evening, it is only wondrous for a while.

Bärtsch's first of six independently released discs before signing with ECM had the unfortunate title of Ritual Groove Music (Ronin-Rhythm, 2001), essentially trapping him within a new genre of his own creation. His ritual grooviness is difficult to get a grasp on; the same conceptual leap required that Nils Petter Molvær brought to the label a decade ago.



Aesthetically it is an extension of the current ECM sound, but moved from the concert hall into the dance club. It is in concert that Ronin—which apart from its samurai connotations simply, and in this case aptly, means "drifting person"—makes most sense. Usually played in near-total darkness with bleak green and purple lights wafting about the stage, Bärtsch's music becomes almost dystopian, its amorphousness a reflection of modern uncertainty.

This album does a good job of bringing that impression to a presumably well-lit living room. Bärtsch's muted piano string vamps, borne aloft by Björn Meyer's electric bass and Sha's bass clarinet—functioning in much the same way that Bennie Maupin's did for Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969)—are better presented in this set of Moduls, which Bärtsch has Braxtonianly called all of his numbered pieces in his career.

It is often said that the music on an album functions as a suite, which is either a simplification or an obvious comment. But Bärtsch's Moduls on Holon really do; maybe less a suite than working as a set of theme-and-variations to a melody we never get to hear in its pure form.


Track Listing: Modul 42; Modul 41_17; Modul 39_8; Modul 46; Modul 45; Modul 44.

Personnel: Nik Brtsch: piano; Sha: bass clarinets, alto saxophone; Bjrn Meyer: bass; Kaspar Rast: drums; Andi Pupato: percussion.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Inner Circle" CD/LP/Track Review Inner Circle
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "The Linda Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Linda Sessions
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Canto América" CD/LP/Track Review Canto América
by James Nadal
Published: March 7, 2016
Read "Of The Night" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Night
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Reconnect" CD/LP/Track Review Reconnect
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 26, 2016
Read "Porto da Madama" CD/LP/Track Review Porto da Madama
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!