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A French composer and musician with more than 15 albums to his credit, Pierre BASTIEN is above all known for his self-made (literally built) orchestra called Mecanium, an ensemble of musical automatons constructed from "Meccano parts" and activated by electrical motors that play on a wide variety of acoustic instruments from all over the world. Pierre built his first machinery in 1977, and since then he constantly developed his mechanical orchestra. "Les Premieres Machines" ("The First Machines" of course) is a collection of Bastien's earliest creations. The fifteen tracks were all recorded from 1977 to 1987 and well reflect the album's title and the orchestra's development alike. All the pieces are bizarre, but the earliest ones, located on the first five tracks, all have an odd and, at once, rather monochromatic sonic palette, so they aren't very impressive despite all their uniqueness. The later creations, while all still weird, are more compelling, well reproducing the sounds of European chamber and brass instruments like violin, contrabass and trombone, as well as those of exotic ones (usually referring to the Far Eastern region), such as a Chinese lute or Japanese Koto. The originality of Pierre Bastien's work is beyond question, though I would only dare recommend this CD to the curious or, to be more precise, those constantly looking for something new in music, be it clearly progressive or just experimental.
VM: June 26, 2007
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