Monday, July 20, 2009

Baertsch Weaves Solo Piano Magic

In our continuing look at Nik Baertsch's first albums on Ronin Rhythm Records, we are now perched over his third, Hishiryo (2002), for solo piano. This is an opportunity for Baertsch to get a full orchestral resonance out of a prepared piano, and he most certainly does that. String dampening via various objects is the main component of his piano preparation and it serves to heighten the percussive effect. The rhythmic qualities of his music and the sound of the piano itself invite comparisons to John Cage's iconic piano works. Certainly such comparisons would not be unwarranted.

Much of the music involves ostinato patterns over which second and sometime third melodic voices are heard. There are moments of "groove" as we might expect of Baertsch's approach, but also more quiescent, mystically Eastern sounding pieces, and that's when the Cage influence is strongest.

Nobody should think that all new music must be freshly invented out of the nothingness of space, the ether, or what-have-you. That Baertsch builds upon the work of others is only natural. All musicians do that. Baertsch succeeds in creating a captivating suite of piano pieces here by transforming his influences in interesting ways.

So long as you aren't expecting a full-flush funk-out, Hishiryo will bring you pleasure, I think. It is one of his more essential offerings.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much Sara. I am very glad you are enjoying it!