Pierre Bastien - Mecanoid (Rephlex)
By Philip Raffaele
A few years ago, after Twin Peaks had come and gone, and I was still obsessed, I found the homepage of Michael Anderson, who played the little man from the black lodge.
He had a competition running, that if viewers sent in their best palindromes, he would send them an autographed 8 x 10 glossy of himself. The best ones I could come up with were 'Racecar' and 'Lisa Bonet ate no basil.' Pierre Bastien has named the 10 tracks on his album palindromes. From 'Damn mad' to 'Sore eros', it is a literal explanation of the kind of sound that he constructs. Front to back, back to front, the music will essentially reach the same plateau since his compositions involve meccano machines, essentially mechanical robots playing 'traditional musical instrument[s] in a repetitive loop.'
Bastien describes his music as ambiguous, and calls the style 'mechanica' and 'acoustica' in the liner notes. The music is interesting; 'Revolt lover' is a jazzy crooning sounding track, with weird interludes that sound like the twanging of rubber bands. It is basically simple melodies and sounds, arranged in an ultra-complex fashion. But part of the fun in listening to the record, is knowing what is behind the music, the construction of the robots and the sounds is vital in terms of appreciating the album.
'No eon' is an atmospheric track of whimpering [bull roar] and stuttering echoes, and a heartbeat pulse reminding me of when Pink Floyd really went off the deep end. Not all of the instruments are played mechanically, the liner notes point out which instruments are played by a human, which explains how the blending of the two elements works cooperatively. I think the live playing adds a bit of life to the mechanical repetition, the diverse instruments used also add a lot of flavor to the recording. Looking at the colophon, we've got castanets, bass, horns, sanzas, organs, marimbas, discs, godfie, and steel drums.
Another step into the avant-garde for Rephlex, along with the recently released Robert Normandeu album. It seems that Bastien has a lot of passion about the music he makes. Definitely not to be filed under Braindance, yet it will look nice on my shelf next to my signed, framed Michael Anderson photo.