497

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Holon

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Holon 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 Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Unnatural  Events CD/LP/Track Review Unnatural Events
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by James Nadal
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Clean CD/LP/Track Review Clean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2017
Read Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations CD/LP/Track Review Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Move Upstairs" CD/LP/Track Review Move Upstairs
by James Nadal
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Time/Life:Songs For The Whales And Other Beings" CD/LP/Track Review Time/Life:Songs For The Whales And Other Beings
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 17, 2017
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "NJO 40" CD/LP/Track Review NJO 40
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 1, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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