Pierre Bastien - Sé Verla Al Revés
Mecanium, Bastien’s orchestra, is an assembly of individual, home-made robots designed to play music mechanically. Constructed from meccano and recycled turntable motors, and numbering more than 80 at last count, the oldest dates back to 1977. The robots are set loose on arcane instruments to hit, pluck and bow via an intricate network of gears and pulleys, producing hypnotic loops. The rudimentary, fragile patterns drawn from instruments like the harp-lute dousso’n gouni from Mali, the rubab mandolin from Uzbekistan, the angklung from Indonesia, the Chinese lute, the Morrocan bendir, the Javanese saron, the Japanese koto, the sanza, the harmonium, and the violin, give us a glimpse of analog sequencing from a pre-digital age. But Bastien does not make purely automated art. Building his loops with the robotic rhythm section, he adds additional melodies, basslines and tone colour for recorded material, and in live performances the musician himself sits amid his mechanised instruments accompanying them on cornet, violin or musical saw.