Keyboardist Nik Bärtsch (at times spelled "Baertsch") is a player, composer, and improviser very much in the European classical-oriented style of jazz, but has created a language that transcends these basic categories. A native and resident of Zurich, Switzerland born in 1971, he began his nine-year-long piano studies at age nine, and also briefly took up clarinet. Listening to blues, jazz, and string quartets, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, and ethnic musics from Japan, Greece, Romania, and Sweden, have all shaped his personalized music.
Bärtsch described his sound in an interview saying, "to me, music is an art of motion, and thus akin to dancing, an ecstatic groove and an ascetic awareness of form and sound in composed music are not mutually exclusive. They can form combinations that take our senses by surprise." Over the years, he has retained that regular early week gig while touring greater Europe, reaching Canada and the U.S.
Bärtsch, ever confident in his band's musical potential, expanded his composing palette. Moving further afield from the "zen funk" that typified both Mobile and Ronin up to that point, he began employing elements of modern classical composition in their repertoire.