Where do we start? After all those years of successful “Ritual Groove Music”, the Swiss band’s ‘zen-funk’ music in changing line ups and formations, with international acclaim? Hasn’t everything been said? Nik Bärtsch’s RONIN was founded in 2001 and the band released a few albums on their own, prior to “Stoa”, released on ECM which gave them more publicity. An amalgamation of funk, minimal music and fusion with such an incredibly fresh sound, garnished with visuals and philosophical superstructures. In interviews, pianist Nik Bärtsch says things like “Change also lies within continuity,” in order to explain the dreamy understanding the musicians have with each other also has something to do with the band’s commitment to their own continual practice in their own club “Exil” where they play every Monday when they are not on tour. It’s fluid, light, and yet complex. Status on 18/10/2021: 881.
Nik Bärtsch says there is no need to reinvent each season anew and that that novelties can also be integrated subtly into existing continuities. He reveals his secret for originality: “We try a mix of funk and emptiness, a flow in nothing. You don’t find this with Miles or fusion music which has always been nervous urbane music - even it when it grooved, someone was always fidgeting. Something always has to happen, even when it is grooving. I have seen it more with ‘Le Scare du Printemps’ where nothings happens for a long period of time and then, bang, the grove returns. In Japan people take much longer to become nervous when nothing happens over a longer period of time.” In any case, there is certainly no reason to get nervous here. The band’s performance is way too captivating - electronic music procedures, loop-like repetitions build up an incredible amount of tension which is released when the band changes direction in a sudden flash “like a shoal of fish” (Bärtsch). They’ve done it frequently and it has never become routine. Jeremias Keller has been the new bassist on board since 2020, following Björn Meyer and Thomy Jordi.