Well, not so much as a surprise. As I was saying to AliK, I like treat myself about twice a year by buying an album from the ECM label. I usually have a skim read of the reviews on amazon, and then impulse buy. And I haven’t been let down yet. So this week I will mainly be listening to Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. Apparently they’re Swiss and combines various musical styles from funk, new classical music to elements of Japanese ritual music. The insistent rhythms also suggest the minimalism of Steve Reich. Bärtsch has called their style “Zen-Funk”. (according to last.fm’s description at least).
They seem to have exactly the right blend of simmering grooves, minimalist repetition, simplicity, interesting stuff, melodic fragments, and a nice laid back feeling (they never explode in the intense way that E.S.T. did).
Shame ECM albums are expensive (they always seem to be over £12 on amazon) as I’d love to buy more of the back catalogue