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.
For more texts, interviews and publications, please check the press section.
Born 1971 in Zurich. Pianist, Composer and Producer. Lives in Zurich. Instruction in piano and percussion from the age 8. 1997 Graduation from the 'Musikhochschule Zürich'. 1998-2001 studies in philosophy, linguistics and musicology at the University of Zurich. 2003/04 stay in japan for half a year.
Ongoing work on his RITUAL GROOVE MUSIC as pianist and composer. Leader of MOBILE (since 1997; with Kaspar Rast, Mats Eser & Sha) and the zen-funk quartet RONIN (since 2001; with Kaspar Rast, Thomy Jordi (till 2011 Björn Meyer) and Sha. 2002 - 2012 also with Andi Pupato). Instructor for ‘Practical Aesthetics’ at the 'Musikhochschule Zürich/Winterthur' (2000-2003).
Co-founder of the Music club EXIL in Zurich (2009).
Founder of the label Ronin Rhythm Records, a platform for creative groove music (since 2006).
1999 and 2002 career award of the ‘UBS Cultural Foundation’
2002 'Werkjahr' (career award) from the city of Zurich
2004 culture-award from the town of Zollikon (appreciation-award)
2006 priority jazz support from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
2007 composition mandate from the Swiss Arts Council
RELEVANT COMPOSITIONS AND PROJECTS
Production and composition of the BLUE trilogy, performed over a period of three years with concerts of 36 hours respectively:
2000: 'AREA BLUE' in Zurich
2001: 'AQUA BLUE' in Baden
2003: 'Water Church Ritual', Wasserkirche Zürich, with guest Walter Grimmer, cello, 6 hour mirror performance
2005: 'Perpetual Rhythm - a musical dance ritual', with Butho dancer Imre Thormann & his Bodygarage Tokyo, 8 hour performance in the Rondorama on the Stanserhorn (Co-Production with Stanser Musiktage).
2005: 'SEE - a live musical soundpicture', 4 hour performance on the lake stage in Zurich; together with oos (Co-Production with the Theaterspektakel Zurich).
2005. Openair performance together with the Gagaku ensemble of the Osaka Gakuin University Japan at the Hiyoshi Shrine in Otsu Japan.
2013: 'TWO THREE - for string orchestra, piano, bass clarinet and percussion' for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (35 minutes, premiere at Kaufleuten Zurich 2013).
2010: 'MODUL 26 for Sextet' for the New York group Bang On A Can (20 minutes, premiere at Merkin Hall New York).
2008: 'ORIT for three percussionists' (20 minutes, premiere at the Mehrklang Festival Freiburg 08)
2005: 'Orchestrated Moduls', New Chamber Funk II, composition for RONIN and the Ensemble für Neue Musik Zurich (60 Minutes).
2004: 'Modul Ritual', New Chamber Funk I, composition for 4 saxophones, piano, rhodes, drums & percussion (70 minutes, written in Japan 2003/04 for the ARTE QUARTETT).
2004: 'Macbeth' by Shakespeare/Müller, premiere at Sophiensäle Berlin 2004, music theatre, director: Nora Somaini.
Solo project ‘Hishiryo’ for prepared piano and percussion (since 2001)
Film music for the documentary film projects PHOTO SUISSE (2003/04) and DESIGN SUISSE (2005/06) of Swiss TV SFDRS and for SWISS VIEW (since 2006).
Music for the CD 'Design Hören' of the architecture magazine 'HOCHPARTERRE' & the ITH (2004)
Collaboration with the Swiss fashion designer Christa De Carouge for several fashion performances (since 2009).
Collaboration with the Japanese dancer Hideto Heshiki (since 2006: Stereo 2007)
'Isorhythms & Moduls' for two prepared Pianos with Zurich pianist and composer Christoph Stiefel (since 2003).
Collaboration with the clarinet player, composer and producer Don Li on his TONUS-MUSIC (1996 - 2002)
CH New Jazzfestival tour with Harald Haerter 1997.
Final at the 'European Jazzcompetition' of the Jazzfestival Leverkusen 1995 with the band 'Domenico Ferrari & the groove cooperative'.
Other important theatre-compositions:
'Titus Andronicus' by Shakespeare/Müller at the Theater Kampnagel in Hamburg (Festival Junge Hunde 1999); 'Gier' by Sarah Kane and 'Kühltransport' by Maxim Biller at TIF Dresden 2001 resp. 2002; 'Medea' by Euripides at the Stadttheater Mönchengladbach 2002; director: Nora Somaini.
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, „LIVE“, ECM 2012
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, „LLYRIA“, ECM 2010
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, „HOLON“, ECM 2008
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, „STOA“, ECM 2006
Nik Bärtschs Mobile, „AER“, 2004, Ronin Rhythm Records
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, „REA“, 2004, Ronin Rhythm Records
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, Live, 2003, Ronin Rhythm Records
Nik Bärtsch, „Hishiryo“, Piano Solo, 2002, Ronin Rhythm Records
Nik Bärtschs Ronin, „Randori“, 2002, Ronin Rhythm Records
Nik Bärtschs Mobile, „Ritual Groove Music“, 2001, Ronin Rhythm Records
Tonus-Music Labor Res. Result LIVE Vol. 1 & 2 Tonus Music Records 2002
Don Li's Tonus, GEN , Tonus Music Records 2001
Don Pfäffli's Tonus, SU:N, Brambus, 1999
Menico Ferrari & the groove cooperative, About Roses and Thorns 1994, out of stock.