333

Pat Metheny: Orchestrion

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
In Pat Metheny's career, stylistic shifts and sudden breaks from the norm occur more often than not. Even though it is evident that he is rooted in jazz, his music encompasses so much more.

With the exception of few records, Metheny has been playing it pretty safe for some time now, sticking to his own personal vision of variations on the Americana/jazz theme. Pat Metheny Group's The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005) and his jazz trio's Day Trip (Nonesuch, 2008) are both excellent records on their own terms but they represent the Metheny vibe that most people know, and have surely heard several times already. What is noticeable is that they are devoid of the sort of musical risk-taking that characterized earlier records like Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976), New Chautauqua (ECM, 1979), Song X (Nonesuch, 1985), Zero Tolerance for Silence (Geffen, 1992), Imaginary Day (Warner Bros., 1997) and One Quiet Night (Nonesuch, 2003). After so much of a similar thing, it is just great to hear him being pushed in a new direction.

Orchestrion is a bold step ahead into uncharted oceans, redefining the concept of a solo record. For this record he introduces the Orchestrion, machinery designed to automatically play music by means of revolving cylinders, and it sounds like an orchestra. Orchestrions were built at the turn of the 20th century, reaching their climax in the 1920s. Metheny was fascinated by these machines from an early age, and obviously it stayed with him. The machine used here was designed by Metheny and built by a group of inventors and it includes a myriad of instruments such as pianos, bells, basses, marimbas, percussion, cymbals, drums, loads of tuned bottles, synths and fabricated acoustic instruments.

Metheny has never shied away from technology as, in his own words, whatever helps him produce a sound is his instrument. The amazing thing here is the guitarist's interaction with the Orchestrion; everything heard is triggered by Metheny's guitar. The music sounds perfectly natural, as if it was played by humans.

The defining characteristic of any given musician is often his sound. Metheny has always possessed a broad range of tones that have made him instantly identifiable, but what has changed with this record is the frame. The context of Orchestrion gives it a different overall feeling and Metheny really rises to the occasion. His five compositions are beautiful and elegant, never losing the guitarist's typical, lush lyricism. There is a sense of wonder throughout, each composition possessing an adventurous spirit of true exploration.

This is thoughtful, free-thinking music, and among the most ambitious experiments Metheny has ever done. Orchestrion is a beautifully structured record with a fascinating instrumental blend.

Track Listing: Orchestrion; Entry Point; Expansion; Soul Search; Spirit of the Air.

Personnel: Pat Metheny: guitar and orchestrionics (pianos, marimba, vibraphone, orchestra bells, basses, guitarbots, percussion, cymbals and drums, blown bottles, and other custom-fabricated acoustic mechanical instruments, keyboard).

Title: Orchestrion | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Deeper Journey" CD/LP/Track Review Deeper Journey
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Just Get In" CD/LP/Track Review Just Get In
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "A Social Call" CD/LP/Track Review A Social Call
by James Nadal
Published: May 25, 2017
Read "50" CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.