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SHOW REVIEW: Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile Uses Jazz to Explore Polyrhythmic Grooves

Mobile 1

Nik Bärtsch’s music belongs in a museum. Luckily that’s exactly where he debuted the music of his latest LP, Continuum, in New York City.

Hailing from Switzerland, Bärtsch comes from a much different place than the Rubin’s Himalayan, Indian, and South Asian art. Both cultures are equally foreign to New York City, but as the world’s ultimate melting pot, I suppose it makes sense for the Big Apple to play host for a performance that celebrates one of ECM Records’ latest release.

Mobile is the name of this band that the swiss pianist has assembled, and it’s fitting. As each song progresses, the group moves freely within different time signatures, weaving in and out of rhythm in a way that almost seems silly at times. It’s incredibly percussive music, with little room for solos or even riffs. At certain points, Bärtsch will play just a note or two, rhythmically, in response to the other three members, each of which have at least some drum(s) at their set up.

Kaspar Rast and Nicolas Stocker play only drums and percussion, while Sha handles bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet. Together, the quartet creates a sound unlike anything heard in jazz music, past or present. As they played the various modules from Continuum over an hour and a half set, each patron was transported into a chapel of Ritual Groove Music, which is actually the title of the debut album from Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile. The crowd may have been sitting down, but it’s just as easy to imagine dancing to the music under the moonlight at 4am.

Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile’s Continuum is now available on ECM Records. He’ll continue to perform music from the 2xLP in Europe throughout the summer


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