Pierre Bastien (France, 1953), a trumpeter who was a long-time member of Pascal Comelade's Bel Canto Orquesta appearing on
Bel Canto Orchestra (Ding Dong, 1984),
Detail Monochrome (DSA, 1984),
Bel Canto (1986),
El Primitivismo (DSA, 1987),
33 Bars (Wave, 1990),
Danses et Chants de Syldavie (1993),
Traffic d'Abstraction (1993),
and Un Samedi sur la Terre (1996),
and who had already released two collaborations with Bernard Pruvost under the moniker Nu Creative Methods, Nu Jungle Dances (Dav05, 1978) and Le Marchand de Calicot (Dav05, 1981),
and composed music for dance pieces and for string
quartet, became famous when (1986) he built his first mechanical orchestra,
"Mecanium", an ensemble of musical automata capable of playing traditional instruments.
Mecanium (ADN, 1988), Musiques Machinales (SMI, 1993),
Eggs Air Sister Steel (InPolysons, 1995),
Musiques Paralloidres (Lowlands, 1998),
that added a sampler to the arsenal,
and Mecanoid (Rephlex, 2001) document these robotic experiments.
Many of the results are simple, warm, humorous vignettes that originate
from the contrast between Bastien's trumpet and the robotic orchestra.
For example Musiques Machinales includes
Inanga Conga for jazzy trumpet and jungle percussion,
the melodic quasi-gamelan Musique Machinale,
Vipers, for trombone and violin (Bastiene) backed by harmonium,
xylophone and percussion (Mecanium), bordering on the ethnic chamber music of
the Penguin Cafè Orchestra,
the folkish lullaby Temps Meles,
and high-quality jazz imitations (whether the nocturnal nostalgic Woolloomooloo Bay or the festive nostalgic Marchin' Band).
It also features Mecanium's nine-minute harp solo Mangbetu.
Oblique Sessions (1997) was a collaboration with Comelade, Berrocal & Liebezeit.
Mecanologie Portative (1999) was a collaboration with the duo Klimperei.
Musique Cyrillique (SoLyd, 2001) was a collaboration with Alexei Aigui.
Mots d'Heures (InPolysons, 2002) was a collaboration with Lukas Simonis.
Pop (Rephlex, 2005) was his most varied and ebullient set of
mechanical symphonies yet. The common factor is a hypnotic rhythm that comes
from the fact that these are players fueled by motors.
Teleconcerts (2005) collects three "teleconcerts" that mirror the
structure of classical concertos and their division in movements called
"largo", "moderato", "presto", etc.
Visions Of Doing (Western Vinyl, 2008) collects soundtracks for films.
Les Premieres Machines 1968-1988 (Gazul, 2009)
collects early bricolage-based compositions.
Machinations (Rephlex, 2012)
collects ten atmospheric pieces composed for soundtracks and installations,
It also includes a DVD of videos about Bastiens' kinetic sculptures and
robotic instruments that basically illustrates the process behind the music.
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