With: Mario Batkovic (accordion, synthesizer)
Sound engineer: Nicola Jannuzzo
As a child, composer and musician Mario Batkovic dreamed of becoming a guitar hero, but his uncle gave him a present of an accordion for his fourth birthday. Since then, he continues to challenge the perceptions and codes of the instrument and with just a handful of innovative and exciting albums, has won over the public with his hypnotic music. For this concert, live-streamed as part of the exhibition Sarah Sze, Night into Day at the Fondation Cartier, he has come up with a very special playlist.
When Mario Batkovic plays the accordion, it is as if we are hearing the instrument for the very first time. Sounding at turns like a string orchestra, a glorious trumpet or a pulsing synthesizer, in his hands, this instrument is transformed. Although Batkovic fears being put in a box, his compositions are nevertheless unclassifiable. “My music is like me: a mixture of baroque, contemporary, kitsch, obscure, deep, soft, and sad. Everything that life is made of!” he claims. From his fingers, springs a vital breath, a lively heartbeat, which captivates as much as it electrifies. Fascinated by new sounds, everything is a pretext for experimentation for Mario Batkovic, who collects and tinkers with instruments from all over the world in his “studio-catacomb” in Bern. He plays around with frequencies and repetition, without pedals or electronic effects. “He draws a variety of stunning sounds from the instrument in an unplugged acoustic format,” wrote Jacques Denis in the French daily newspaper, Libération. In 2017, Geoff Barrow (co-founder of Portishead) recognized his talent and signed him to his label Invada Records. Since then, his career has orbited. That same year, he was listed in the Top 10 “Avant-Garde Albums” selected by Rolling Stone magazine. He has performed on stages all over the world, collaborated with an ever increasing number of artists, composed film scores, and even participated on the soundtrack for the famous video game Red Dead Redemption 2. “When you understand the essence of music, you can do anything,” confides Batkovic. Within the space of a few years, this artist has established himself as one of the most fascinating musicians of his time.
For this Nomadic Night event, Mario Batkovic will perform in the exceptional setting of the Sarah Sze exhibition, Night into Day. Live-streamed, the concert will feature some iconic pieces from his solo accordion project but also unreleased material with synthesizer arrangements. According to Batkovic, it presents “[a] unique opportunity to discover other facets of my music.”
“Alone with his accordion, [Mario Batkovic] succeeds in producing a soundtrack with cinematographic undertones, in that his music can provoke tears, smiles, curiosity and foot-tapping beats.” Jacques Denis, Libération
Mario Batkovic is a composer, represented for film and game scores by Soundtrack Music Associates (Los Angeles). He is signed to Invada Records (UK) as a solo artist, a label founded by Geoff Barrow (Portishead, BEAK>). His debut solo album received widespread critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone magazine listing it in the top 10 avant-garde albums of 2017. Batkovic tours consistently, playing festivals such as Bushfire (South Africa), Supersonic (UK), Le Guess Who (NL) and the Montreux Jazz Festival. He contributed compositions to the soundtrack of Red Dead Redemption 2, created by Rock Star Games. It was best selling game worldwide in 2018.
Batkovic’s mission is to explore the sonic possibilities of the accordion, without effects or loops, rather through a mutualist symbiotic relationship between man and instrument. Challenging, hypnotic, and grandiose; Batkovic’s single-handed symphonic vision is certainly unique.
He is currently recording his new album which is due for release on Invada Records in 2021.