Swiss pianist Maja Nydegger sounds like a musical first cousin to Nik Bärtsch. With his groups Ronin and Mobile, pianist Bartsch create intriguing ritual groove music and Zen funkdescriptors Bartsch has used for his stylestirred up with modern classical sounds. Nydegger, with her group Blaer, crafts a similar mode of expression on her fourth album, Pure, on Bartsch's Ronin Rhythm Records.
So, the comparison between Bartsch and Nydegger: Bartsch does not shy away from the explosive. He and his bands craft extended interludes of minimalist, mechanistic repetition, creating a compelling tension that then, more often than not, culminates in eruptions. While Nydeggar's Blaerthough also using repetition as a toolmakes sounds that are more placid, flirting with ambiance and embracing minimalism with more consistency. Even though Blauer is a quintetbass clarinet, tenor sax, piano, bass and drumsit for the most part sounds like a subdued orchestra, intent on the subtle and atmospheric, leaning toward Brian Eno's sound. The reeds tend toward the subliminal.
Blaer has been called a "spherical groove organism." Take that for what it is worth. It is indeed organic, and grooves do emerge. Under Nydegger's leadership, it makes music that is seductive and mildly intoxicating, hypnotic and organically and methodically beautiful. Where Nik Bartsch's groups grab the lapels of the listeners and gives them a good shake, Nydegger's Blaer runs a cool hand down the cheek and offers a beguiling smile, while painting a pastel backdrop of an impressionistic landscape, at twilight. The colors are muted, blurring into each other and the shapes are not quite distinct, leaving a sense of mystery in the air.
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