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Michael Bettine

Michael Bettine has worked as a percussionist and composer for over 30 years now. In that time he has moved from the progressive rock of the 1970s, to jazz, free jazz, improv, and composed percussion music. His work expands the role of percussion-as-time keeper, into realms of texture-as-sound & rhythm.

To this end, he currently works extensively with Gongs and metal percussion. Discovering Asian Gamelan music in the late 1970s, and the minimalist works of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and others, Michael went on to compose expanded works for multiple percussion & Gongs, where rhythm & melody became one.

His current projects, Percussion Chamber Music (PCM), and Gongtopia, bring percussion to the forefront in a one man solo performance. Michael?s music draws heavily on the spiritual aspect of his instruments, sacred geometry, and the traditions of cultures from around the world.Michael is also a writer, having written various drum related books and contributed to such magazines as MODERN DRUMMER, Rhythm, DownBeat, AVANT, and many others.
What the press and radio has to say about Michael Bettine:
MICHAEL BETTINE is a percussionist specializing in metal, and these CDs focus on his art through two different solo performances. Labyrinth , subtitled Music For Gongs, consists of nine beautifully hypnotic tracks. The music was composed with his particular gongs in mind, a collection thirty years in the making. From the opening majestic washes of "Ritual-Ascension" to the high-pitched melodies of "Medicine Wheel," the entire sound spectrum is covered. On Stars Show the Way, drums and other percussion also make appearances. The variety of instruments used here is staggering. Whether it's melodic tom patterns or Asian metal percussion figures, these twenty-five pieces possess an undeniable immediacy and intensity. Both recordings are excellently recorded, with a clear sound that shows off the instruments quite well. Sinking into Bettine's sound world is fascinating and inspiring.

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 Labyrinth' 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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