Nik Bärtsch: Modul 42
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin
Holon (ECM 2049)
Sha (bass clarinet, alto saxophone).
Composed by Nik Bärtsch.
Recorded: La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines, France, July 2007
Rating: 79/100 (learn more)
Holon, the new ECM release by Nik Bärtsch, gets off to a tepid start with this 6-minute track. Atmospheric jazz, when it is played in such an astringent manner, risks sounding like an under-produced film score. The repetitive, medium-tempo pattern that makes up most of this track reminds me of the kind of music a newbie director would cook up behind shots of a ticking clock in some slow-build suspense movie.
Of course, a ticking clock is suspenseful only when it leads somewhere.
Fortunately the rest of Holon gets better and better. The minimalist philosophy behind Bärtsch's music can build some grand effects, but you need to give Bärtsch time for him to deliver the goods. Spend an hour with his music, and you may walk away a believer, but if you're thinking about downloading this track as a sampler, think again. Bärtsch might have made this the first movement of a multipart work – and then I would have cut him some slack. But as a standalone piece, "Modul 42" will leave you checking your watch.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
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