Switzerland-via-Bosnia artist Mario Batkovic’s latest album is solely made up of sounds from his accordion but this is not some rose-tinted Parisian postcard love story soundtrack – quite the opposite, in fact. Every one of the nine tracks on this record is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat experience. The whirling arpeggios of ‘Restrictus’ are particularly overwhelming and hypnotic but even on the more restrained tracks like ‘Gravis’, there’s always an ominous, sometimes menacing undertone.
The amount of space that is filled across the album is also impressive, considering it all came from one source. This was apparently a real labour of love for Batkovic, who spent a year working on a way to record the accordion in crystal clear stereo. At certain points throughout the record you can hear only the instrument’s buttons pressing in and out without any melodic accompaniment. This acts as a percussive break in the music but also brings us close into the inner workings of the instrument itself.
You could be forgiven for thinking that an album relying solely on one rather distinctive instrument would be flat and one-dimensional. Yet Batkovic’s technique and imagination serve to show that the accordion is not only versatile in the amount of noises it can make but also deeply powerful in the different atmospheres it evokes. It’s safe to say an album such as this doesn’t come along very often.
Words: Jack Dolan
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