IT BEGINS with slow, almost marine tones, for a brief bar or two; but without warning it launches as a whole other being, a busy Seventies’ cop show break underpinning a melodic run so fast it’s practically liquid. It almost has the feel of a lazy breakbeat burner from the early Nineties, by Pressure Drop or Nightmares on Wax or someone; big on the atmos, big on the groove.
And then you learn it’s an accordion track … hang on. An accordion?
Yes, trust me: an instrument you may only be acquainted with through your grandparents’ record collection suddenly found its cool voice. And that’s entirely down to Swiss accordionist Mario Batkovic, whose fluency and desire to break barriers brings us here. That track? It’s his new single, “REPERTIO”, it’s out as of yesterday from none other than Geoff Barrow’s (BEAK>, Portishead) Invada imprint, and there’s an album to follow in a month.
Mario eschews effects pedals – that fluidity, as it were, is entirely flesh; it’s purely man intersecting with the possibilities of instrument.
He says of the song: “At the beginning almost classically presumptuous, the piece finds its players. It changes, transforms, becomes wilder and all this without losing its core content.
“The piece was created in Bristol’s Invada Studio; the meeting with Clive Deamer and Matt Williams was a successful start for wild anarchistic, dissonant and yet harmonious work. I personally found the work more than amusing. It was an insane musical encounter on another planet.”
Drummer at the session Clive Deamer, who’s worked with Robert Plant and Roni Size, adds: “That feels a long time ago now, as I’m sure it does for everyone else trying to emerge from the pandemic.
“Geoff and Mario both invited me to collaborate with him after his performance at Islington Assembly Hall earlier that year.
“I really like Mario’s album; it’s an imposing gothic Latin edifice that would assuage the most discerning contemporary vampire.”
Underpinning that single is former BEAK> bassist Matthew Williams, guising as MXLX; elsewhere on the album there’s input from ethno-electronica master James Holden, saxophonist Colin Stetson and the Cantus Domus concert choir.
It’s no wonder Rolling Stone magazine voted his self-titled debut album into its top ten Best Avant Albums of 2017.
On the forthcoming album, we’re told Mario seeks to take the listener “on a journey through infinite universes of sound.”
“REPERTIO” is out now across digital streaming platforms. Mario Batkovic’s album, INTROSPECTIO, will be released by digitally by Invada Records on December 3rd; pre-order or pre-save yours, here.