Label: Ronin Rhythm Records
Catalog number: RON 002
- record by Nik Bärtsch's Ronin
Repetition and variation are such exhausted compositional means, what "new" music could they still produce? The question may be asked by those who have not yet heard Nik Bärtsch's quartet. With piano, bass guitar, drums and percussion, they set the stage. First surprise: the jazz line-up plays funk. Second surprise: The funk is on the spot. They always play the same thing! One motif time after time after time... Third surprise: they don't always play the same thing; it does change, but only minimally... After a quarter of an hour, the thing has a name: Steve Reich meets James Brown. But then - fourth surprise - you can hardly sit still: The extremities start twitching, and it doesn't take long before the whole body is fidgeting. Nik Bärtsch calls his idea "ecstasy through asceticism" and the result "Zen funk". Open drawer, close drawer. But here comes the fifth surprise: although the music contains no secret, although its principle communicates itself quickly, although it just makes you fidget, it builds up a growing, sensual, almost aching tension until your head bursts and your brain flies away skywards. There is a lot of repetition and little variation, but the music has something physical. The musicians play every sound loop themselves. No computer, no sampler does the work for them. The band leader says he had to search a long time for a percussionist who was willing to play "ping" for twenty minutes and not even "pingping". When the percussionist finally plays "ping-ping" - as longed for as completely unexpectedly - the effect is stunning. This album brings a paradox to life in the most beautiful way: The more rigid the framework, the stronger the movement.