Artist web site: http://www.homepage.mac.com/bettine
Mr. Bettine is a percussionist of flair and ability to work with the "colors" suggested by certain drum sounds; Labyrunth is music for gongs while Stars... concerns a more full drum kit and beaten gamelan-like tuned bits as well. What doesn't satisfy me about these releases is the simple rhythmic cadences, the lack of melody and the inability of the music to transcend the instrumentation. Great drummers, especially ones who are experts on the cymbals, nearly make a pianist unnecessary in the band they're in. Mr. Bettine does get up a hair-raising drone on Labyrunth's opening cut "Ritual-Ascension," but little else is as stirring on either CD. It may be the seeming "emptiness" of the tracks; one problem I used to have with former Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker's soloing was his tendency to introduce a motif, then a minor variation or two and then dump it and start over again with a different pattern. Baker early on just didn't seem to know how to play space against movement or develop his themes (he has since greatly improved), but Mr. Bettine shows similar tendencies at this particular point in his career. Stars Show the Way and Labyrinth function nicely as ambient music, but other than that, better play of silence versus sound would have been preferred.
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