497

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Holon

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
For those of us who weren't paying attention earlier, Nik Bartsch's Ronin first burst on the scene with its 2007 ECM Records debut, Stoa. But the Swiss composer-pianist had, in fact, been building a just-beneath-the-radar discography for several years on his own Ronin Rhythm Records.

Which brings us to Holon, Bartsch's second ECM set, one which moves the music deeper into the "Zen Funk" and "Ritual Groove" foundational mold that the pianist and his band have constructed.

It's counterproductive to intellectualize the Ronin sound. Considered within the melody/rhythm/harmony framework, rhythm is in the forefront here. Or, rather, rhythm, repetition, and trance-like grooves that speak more to the body than to the mind. This is a piano, bass, reed, drums and percussion ensemble stitching multiple odd meters into precision tapestries in the mode of an electronica group (although with Nik Bartch's Ronin, the sound—with the exception of Bjorn Meyer's electric bass—is acoustic.)

Holon has a slightly more organic feeling than its predecessor, Stoa, due in part to Bartsch's move away from Fender Rhodes to acoustic piano. It also has more of a "live" sound, with the opener, "Modul 42," sounding particularly pastoral.

Multi-reedist Sha is essential to the Ronin experience. He plays mostly bass and contrabass clarinets, and his contribution is by and large almost subliminal: low rumbles and distance groans that fill in the open spaces in tight textures. But on "Modul 45" he wails in on alto sax, like a banshee trying to charm a cobra.

Nik Bartsch and Ronin have crafted a singular sound, a curious mix of mathematics, mysticism and ringing rhythmic beauty. Who says there's nothing new happening in jazz? .

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

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Here’s to You..." CD/LP/Track Review Here’s to You...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 9, 2016
Read "Sleight Of Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Sleight Of Hand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Mt. Crushmore" CD/LP/Track Review Mt. Crushmore
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Opening Statement" CD/LP/Track Review Opening Statement
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Holiday On Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.