All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

188

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Holon

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count
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 Bärtsch: piano; Sha: bass and contrabass clarinets, alto saxophone; Björn Meyer: bass; Kaspar Rast: drums; Andi Pupato: percussion.

Title: Holon | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "Contra la indecision" CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 10, 2018
Read "Contrast" CD/LP/Track Review Contrast
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 1, 2018
Read "Mother Tongue" CD/LP/Track Review Mother Tongue
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 3, 2017
Read "Non é Prohibito" CD/LP/Track Review Non é Prohibito
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 13, 2018
Read "The Conscience" CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Autumn Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Autumn Wind
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 3, 2017