Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

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 Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Disappeared Behind the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Hauptbahnhof" CD/LP/Track Review Hauptbahnhof
by Anthony Shaw
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Port Bou" CD/LP/Track Review Port Bou
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Post Bop Gypsies" CD/LP/Track Review Post Bop Gypsies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek" CD/LP/Track Review Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 16, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!