370

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
On Stoa (ECM Records, 2005), Nik Bärtsch's Ronin offered up music made with a clock-like precision. Zen Funk, Ritual Groove Music—take your pick of descriptive tags—was meted out by a machine-like ensemble, using repetition and reduction and space sparked by the leader's punctuating, crystalline piano notes underlain, a great deal of the time, by a bass/contrabass clarinet rumble that suggested a sinister gargantuan presence dwelling in the basement beneath the machinery.

Holon (ECM, 2008), the Swiss band's second recording for the German label, loosened some of the bolts on the machinery. The music still felt half human/half machine—like sounds made by science fiction cyborgs—but the human/organic side was asserting itself more. Sha, the group's reedman, shelved the ponderous (in a good sense of the word) contrabass clarinet for alto saxophone and regular bass clarinet, and the group's signature sound—still getting deep into repetition and grooves—opened up and breathed more, while keeping its trance-inducing qualities.

Where Holon was a small evolutionary step away from Stoa, Llyría takes a leap. "Modul 48," opens with the leader's chiming, singing single notes on the piano then drifts into a cool, near-orchestral sound as the ensemble breathes in, with a collective approach that is pastoral and pretty, more reminiscent of Jan Garbarek than Stoa.

"Modul 52" works more into the groove/repetition mode, with a slapping percussion and mesmerizing melody, and "Modul 55" blows into darker, music-from-the-shadows territory on Sha's bass clarinet, then brightens as the reedman shifts to a higher register, drawing the light in through a dark canopy.

"Modul 55" slows the momentum into a deliberate, meditative mood, highlighting a collective nature of this music that doesn't lend itself to dissection of individual contributions. Every sound fits in the concept of the collective whole—through-composed but with an increasingly organic flexibility. In pianist Bärtsch's words: "The band has to discover the right tension and suitable dramatic structure for the piece on the spur of the moment."

With Llyría, it sounds very much as if they've done just that.

Track Listing: Modul 48; Modul 52; Modul 55; Modul 47; Modul 53; Modul 51; Modul 49_44.

Personnel: Nik Bärtsch: piano; Sha: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Björn Meyer: bass; Kaspar Rast: drums; Andi Pupato: percussion.

Title: Llyria | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Aleka CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24 CD/LP/Track Review The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Bleak House" CD/LP/Track Review Bleak House
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Hush Point III" CD/LP/Track Review Hush Point III
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Unfamiliar Surroundings" CD/LP/Track Review Unfamiliar Surroundings
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by John Kelman
Published: December 25, 2016

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!

Please support out sponsor