Friday, September 4, 2009

Baertsch's Ritual Groove Music No. Six his Masterpiece?

Pianist-composer-bandleader Nik Baertsch, with his musical amalgamation of enlightened repetition and rhythmic intensity, has been the subject of a fair number of blog entries this year. We now come to his sixth ritual groove installment, REA (2004) (Ronin Rhythm), which may be his best ever. The reason for that involves pacing, development and density. This disk/download has the most diverse offering of musical vignettes of all six releases. There are almost Gamelan-like cross-musical dialogues of instruments in long interlocking sections, there are more leisurely, introspective interludes, and there are hard-charging, wildly funky polygrooves.

In all this the musical motives are never banal, always interesting and individual and the ensemble colors shine in a sunny luminescence. The ensemble is a fairly large one. Winds, mallet percussion, drums and Baertsch's prepared and conventional piano give texture and solid-line clarity to the musical picture. If you were looking for one album to introduce you to Nik's ritual groove music, I would unhesitatingly recommend this one. It's an important contribution to the Miminalist oeuvre, if you are keeping score. Otherwise it's just plainly good music and a joy to hear.

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