Nik Bärtsch: Modul 45
Nik Bartsch's Ronin
Holon (ECM 2049)
Composed by Nik Bärtsch.
Recorded: La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines, France, July 2007
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Nik Bärtsch has described his music as "zen funk," but usually there is more zen than funk in the mix. Yet on "Modul 45," we get a more judicious balance. On this penultimate track to Bärtsch's Holon release, the groove kicks into high gear from the outset, and the repetitions that make up so much of his music show their hypnotic side. Even better, Sha layers some free jazz lines on top of the rhythm section that give the whole proceedings a piquant edge.
After hearing this track, I am half convinced that, yes, there is a meeting place between minimalism and funk. But the point of intersection is an elusive one, and hard to maintain. Bärtsch himself hints as much when he quotes Morton Feldman's revealing comment: "I always leave the concert hall when I start tapping my foot." This intriguing performance captures Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at that moment right when the feet start tapping. But don't leave . . this is precisely the point where you'll want to stay and listen.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia