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Stoa / Nik Bartsch's Ronin

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 2, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

STOA
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 2, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B000E0W2AC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,543 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is immersive and thought-provoking music: contemplative without being fragile or shy, informed by electronica but played on mostly acoustic instruments, minimal in construction while delivering a visceral punch, classic mind-stretching ECM music that isn't at all twee or precious.

Nik Bartsch and his crew build compelling atmospheres from deceptively simple patterns played on piano, Fender Rhodes, clarinet, bass and percussion; and one of the attractions of this music are the uncanny effects caused by the intricate interlocking rhythms, harmonies, and overtones. At times, these lapidary intricacies produce the sounds of ghost instruments (or even growling jungle beasts) in the mix. Fans of Steve Reich's masterpiece "Music for 18 Musicians" should give this a listen -- at times, Ronin's music creates similarly oceanic waves of tension and release. Listening to this recording late at night brought back some of the thrills of hearing my first genre-transcending ECM music in the 1970s, such as Eberhard Weber's magnificent "Yellow Fields" or Ralph Towner's Solstice albums.

Not everyone will love this music. It's not jazz, it doesn't exactly swing, and it may be too in-your-face for those who prefer more delicate realms of introspection. People who hate the minimalisms of Reich and Philip Glass may find Bartsch's compositions repetitive. But anyone who is interested in muscular new sounds that seem both timeless and very contemporary should check it out.
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Format: Audio CD
First you will want to know what genre Stoa is. Give it up. It lives in the traffic circle of minimalism, jazz and funk. Steve Reich would get Bartsch's vibe. But this is not jazz. It leaps the fence of minimalism and runs to the mountains. Too precise for funk. And too tectonic to be atmospheric. Bartsch pioneers new space with this suite. And what a wonderful space it is. Some indie film maker should produce a movie just to feature this sound track.
- Chuck Crouse
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jazz evolved in the US as a unique amalgamation of African sources and European ones. When Jazz was shipped to Europe, it created its own unique forms, and European jazz has taken different tracks from its American counterparts. Nik Bärtsch's Ronin has found a unique version that is distinctly cool and artsy and compelling. People compare this stuff to Steve Reich (who also recorded on ECM for some years), but in fact there is at least one track on this CD that sounds like a clone of Philip Glass's "Music with Changing Parts" - right down to the slightly wonky intonation. American Minimalism (another amalgamation) clearly influences this music, but that doesn't prevent it from having its own voice, one that is capable of being sexy and interesting on its own terms, whatever its references to its sources.
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Format: Audio CD
I guess it was just a matter of time before someone married jazz and minimalism. Bartsch and crew have come upon a magical hybrid. He calls it "Zen funk," and the moniker is quite apropos. Unlike Holon, this release possesses a restraint that is admirable in my opinion because at any point in the five "moduls" (the name Bartsch gives his compositions) the listener is given the impression that the music might explode into breakneck chaos any second, but it never does. It's as cool as any Reich piece, but it projects the sass and savvy of any Medeski, Martin, and Wood song. The groove the listener is put into is quite enjoyable.
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Format: Audio CD
This is not your father's jazz, funk or minimalism, It is all and none as at times, the genres individually and coordinately are aggregated in Stoa. Nik Bartsch's zen funk quartet Ronin does great justice to Bartsch's music. Although percussion and piano predominate, they are joined by bass, clarinet and sax. Ronin's music is rarely predictable. A minimalist piano section can merge into a jazz-inflected groove and then into a post-modern percussive meditation.

Because Bartsch's compositions define easy compartmentalization, it will, unfortunately, limit his exposure. This is thoughtful and enjoyable music that gives you a unique, listening experience.
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