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Albums by Nik Bärtsch

Nik Bärtsch

Born 1971 in Zurich. Pianist, composer and producer. Instruction in piano and percussion from the age 8. 1997 Graduation from the 'Musikhoch-schule Zürich'. 1989-2001 studies in philosophy, linguistics and musico-logy at the University of Zurich. 2003-04 stay in Japan. Ongoing work on his RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC as pianist and composer. Leader of zen-funk quintet RONIN (since 2001; with Kaspar Rast, Björn Meyer, Andi Pupato & Sha) and MOBILE (since 1997). Teacher for ‘practical aesthetics’ at the 'Musikhochschule Zürich/Winterthur' (2000-03). Numerous awards from 1999, including the jazz priority award of Swiss Arts Council in 2006.

Ecstasy through asceticism


RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC, the title of my first CD, also points to the fundamental concept of my musical thinking. The music shows a close affinity to architecturally organized space and is governed by the principles of repetition and reduction as well as by interlocking rhythms. A piece of music can be entered, inhabited like a room. It moves forward and transforms through obsessive circular movements, superimposition of different meters and micro-interplay. The listeners attention is directed toward minimal variations and phrasing. The band becomes an integral organism - like an animal, a habitat, an urban space. One must think with ears and hands.


Normally, we work in three distinct formations. The group MOBILE plays purely acoustic music, performed in rituals of up to 36 hours, including light- and room design. The Zen-funk quartet RONIN, by contrast, is more flexible and plays the compositions more freely. As a solo performer I perform my compositions on prepared piano with percussion.


Despite the tightly organized compositional construction, improvisation plays an important role in our music. On the one hand, accentuation, ghost notes, and variations within a composition are tossed back and forth between the musicians; on the other hand, a particular voice within a composition might have more freedom than the others. In doing so, that voice forms an independent module that can interact with the strictly notated interlocking patterns in continuously changing ways. Groove-habitats or void musical space of raw poetry emerge.

My thinking and music are based on the tradition of urban space. They are not distilled from a national or stylistic tradition but from the universal sound of cities. The city in its roaring diversity requires an ability to focus and concentrate on the essential: to measure one’s actions, to remain silent at the right place. This music draws its energy from the tension between compositional precision and the self-circumvention of improvisation. From self-implied restriction stems freedom.
Ecstasy through asceticism.


Nik Bärtsch , January 2003

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin Live Berlin 08 (1/2)
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin Live Berlin 08 (2/2)