on 22 August 2012
It's difficult to say any more about Nik Bärtsch's music, other than what I've said in my review for their previous recording STOA. I tried to grasp what it was about their music that makes it so rhythmically interesting and complicated, yet so listen-able. And to be honest, I didn't do a great job! For those of you who are interested in Nik Bärtsch's use of complex rhythms, I can do no better than to suggest you take a look at an analysis of the first piece on this recording (Modul 48). Amazon doesn't allow web addresses in reviews, so do an internet search for: Modul 48 analysis, and it should be the first result.
It's a great insight and definitely worth a look.
Sorry not to have reviewed this particular recording more in depth. As someone once said, "talking/writing about music is like dancing about architecture"!
on 3 October 2010
The music of Nik Barsch's Ronin is instantly recognisable and surprisingly difficult to describe (even with the assistance of Wittginstein's quotation about "Empathis und Phrasierung" in the liner notes). Barsch's own (not entirely happy) phrase "zen funk" captures some of the internal conflict behind such disciplined music and reviewers of the previous release "Holon" highlighted comparators such as the American minimalists, the much-missed EST and Autechre.
Publicity releases for "Llyria" have highlighted its increased melodic and lyrical sense and corresponding "loosening of the ritualistic grooves" in comparison to its predecessor "Holon". Nonetheless, "Llyria" is no volte face or abandonment from the group's previous work, rather a refinement or natural development and, for all the excellence of "Holon", an improvement. The use of acoustic instruments save for electric bass provides a warm and organic feel which militates against the disciplined construction of the music, the complete absence of ego and notion of soloists, and the austere description of all the pieces as numbered modules.
The percussive precision throughout, best exemplified on fourth track "Modul 47", and shifting pulse match any of Jaki Liebzeit`s contributions to Can's "Future Days". Bartsch's piano has a more crystalline quality than before and his patterns, whilst still very rhythmic with lower register stabbings providing as much propulsion as the bass or percussion, are indeed more melodic and even impressionistic. On third track "Modul 55" in particular the mysteriously named Sha's saxophone even has echoes of Stephan Micus's (zen but resolutely un-funky) music.
The range of comparisons and synthesis of melody and rhythm, pre-conception and improvisation means that this is music which should appeal to Ronin's existing fanbase, a wide new audience and fellow musicians looking for samples and directors for film-music. Undemonstratively brilliant.
on 21 February 2011
I love ECM and think they're a label still putting out great music and moving fowards. This album, though, is one of their best of the last few years and is one of the best jazz albums I've heard lately. The playing on it is excellent and the pieces are really good. I don't like music that is complicated for the sake of it and I'm glad to say that the music here is complicated but in a very creative and beautiful way, with overlapping ryhthms and diverse solos.
The recording is also excellent.
on 6 April 2011
Nik Bartsch's music evolves with every album, and always for the better - this is his most interesting album to date. Departing from his earlier well constructed minimalist compositions he is developing into a singular voice in modern music. This is what I would call true fusion music, true because it compromises none of the elements. It is jazz, trance, contemporary minimalism and something more as well - the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Zen funk indeed.
Highest recommendation for both the performance and the recording.
on 30 November 2010
If you liked the last two Nik Bartsch ECM disks, Holon and Stoa, you will probably enjoy this just as much. The bands music is hard to describe, but it always has a hypnotic effect on me. There seems to be a bit of a change of direction with Llyria, in that it seems gentler and less frantic than the last two discs. The supporting players are all excellent as usual, but Sha seems to have been moved forward in the mix and does not disappoint. Nik's merry band are fantastic live, and being able to see them perform allows you to understand where all the sounds come from. The way Nik plays the piano, by which I mean the whole instrument, not just the keys. The fantastic percussion and drumming from Andi and Kaspar, and the marvelous bass sounds from Bjorn. Their playing is as tight as any band I have ever seen live, because they constantly hone their craft and play weekly at thier own club in Zurich when not touring, miss them at your peril.
on 12 October 2010
This is the third relase on ECM for ronin,and shows steady progress,the first two albums were perhaps a little to experimental for some tastes,but thus seems to hit the rright note for the talanted Swiss band,the tunesor "Modules "as theey are titled on the album are played well ands in true keeping with the ECM ethos well produced and defined.
The sound is incredibly modern and electronic throughout although this doesnt detract from the immensely enjoyable playing contained herein.
The packaging is again excellent.