Nodding Terms by Ketan Bhatti x Ensemble Adapter

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Berlin-based Delhiite, composer/musician Ketan Bhatti delivers his first collaboration alongside Ensemble Adapter on the new release Nodding Terms (CD/DL via Viennese Col Legno Music). In a bakers dozen of tracks they lay things down from the inventive percussion to the zip of a typewriter on the stylish opener, Insel vor Tounsibuurg. It’s far from what normally pricks our ears, but has just the right amount of quirk and circumstance to go the extra road. The unlisted xylophonist (?) is driving the form of Modul 5 with its fortified scales paired with other singular notes being played in succession.

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Elsewhere the mood shifts to a less frantic pace (Funkstoff) and opts for sequential showmanship, after all this is an ensemble of eight players. The flute of Kristjana Helgado is bright and perfectly peculiar when in combination with the bass clarinet of Ingólfur Vilhjálmsson – especially with the accompaniment of the sassy drums and percussion throughout. The funk that results from these (obviously classically trained) players is also quite refreshing, this could be heard on Funkstoff but is further accentuated on the spirited Laughter Leading. The album is undeniably warm, inviting and as genre-less as they come. It’s as if a free jazz group were jamming with an orchestra and everyone took turns at playing each others’ instruments and it still retained a level of tuned musicality. Though that is not what is happening here, there are a few multi-instrumentalists featured, particularly Bhatti himself, aside from writing and composing this elusive score in multiple parts also takes turns on both drums and grand piano.

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Ferntendenz and its immediate track which is its remix (the first of three tracks presented this way) by Paul Frick, is centered and contemporary, with a rounded-out feel to the otherwise twitchy misalignments. It’s a late night adventure. No rest for the weary on the title track, which begins like a bit of a henhouse at feeding time. The animated “bok-bok-bok” is met with pat down percussion and a level of unquietude. Stops and starts a plenty make this one a bit of a sleeper. There are moments of ambient meets suspense drama on the two-minute wonder, Kords, and that leads you right to the perky Umziehaktion. Here in a bit of a nod to Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, the players tap and blurt, toot and otherwise create a Latin journey that is delightfully tropicalia. In it’s Brauer’s Rumpelkammer remix the tempo is bloated with bass and tiny sound effects that are on the other side of oompa loompa rump-a-pump pump. It’s a sly yet muddy mix, a bit of an incidental misstep here.

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Modul 4 self-tunes in repetition ’til a cascade of cross-the-board keys is opened like a bag of marbles. It takes sweet time to speak its mind, with the circular breathing and jazzy scales having a conversation. Every key counts into the finale which is the previous track’s Ensemble Adapter Remix. A luxe stride complimented by Matthias Engler‘s chime jangle and an effervescent sense of spatial relationships.

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