Fricke's Picks: Nik Batsch's Ronin


There were moments — long, magnetic spells, actually — during a recent set by Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Joe's Pub in New York when the Swiss instrumental quintet seemed more like a double trio: two percussionists; a bassist and one band member exhaling low, sustained drones on bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet; and Bärtsch on both acoustic and electric piano, one hand on each, playing hypnotic overlapping riffs that were more pulse than melody. The music was a subtle, accelerating excitement, a trance-fusion melting of the '71 Pink Floyd, the '68 Grateful Dead and the rhythm armies in Miles Davis' electric bands — minus guitars and trumpet. There are no song titles on Ronin's latest album, Holon (ECM), or 2006's Stoa (ECM) — the tracks are numbered — because the colors, lift and flow in this fusion speak for themselves.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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