547

Pat Metheny: Pat Metheny: Orchestrion

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Pat Metheny: Pat Metheny: Orchestrion Orchestrion is no doubt going to be tremendously popular with Pat Metheny's devoted fan base, and anyone else who takes the opportunity to see the man on his upcoming tour. As one of the guitarist/composer's grandest projects, it will attract more than a few of those casually acquainted with Metheny's fame, curiosity piqued by the unusual concept behind the recording; the CD is enclosed in a triple-fold digipak with an array of color photos, no doubt intended to startle.

No question the Missouri-born Metheny posed himself a challenge in bringing the Orchestrion—capable of replicating an array of acoustic and electric instruments including piano, marimba and vibraphone—into the digital domain. Add to that extending his inspiration to composing new material expressly designed for and arising from the use of the Orchestrion, and the goals are laudable in and of themselves.

Yet the end result is less than the sum of its author's multi-faceted ambitions, because its tangible virtues are offset by a certain mechanical feel, the bane of projects where a musician opts to do it all himself. The ineffable air of mystery and elusive human touch that suffuse One Quiet Night (Warner Bros., 2003) are but fleeting, during the course of this fifty-plus minutes.

Orchestrion's greatest pleasures—and there are, to be fair, more than a few, lie in how this recording recalls the best melodic compositions of Metheny's three decades-plus oeuvre. Particularly notable, especially during "Entry Point," is his truly poignant guitar playing; as the sole conventional instrument in play on Orchestrion and, the literal trigger of the device, that instrument itself lends personality to this affair, but Metheny can only project himself so far as the ghost in the machine.

The melodious guitar as on "Soul Search," for instance, is never merely pretty, but sweet sounding in detail. Layers of harmony not only entice the ear but elicit close listening: Metheny plays in such a way as to make statements, not merely in sentences but in paragraphs, all with their own internal rhythms and melody lines. What further elevates the pleasure of hearing Orchestrion is the full presence in the recording quality: the deep resonance preserved by engineer Joe Ferla almost adds enough impact to the recording, compensating for the lack of human touch that makes "Expansion" sound too much like a demo for Pat Metheny Group.

Orchestrion, then, suffers less in conception than execution. The title device, too, becomes only a backdrop (and, perhaps even to some ears, a mere gimmick) for otherwise faultless composition and musicianship from the author. No doubt the prep work, recording and live performance allows Pat Metheny to extend his reach of technology as a means to keeping his recording, composing and playing fresh. In that respect Orchestrion is a smart move—even if, on its own terms, it's a bit too clever for its own good.


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: Pat Metheny: Orchestrion | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "King of the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review King of the Blues
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Mundo" CD/LP/Track Review Mundo
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "I Just Did Say Something" CD/LP/Track Review I Just Did Say Something
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "The Seasons" CD/LP/Track Review The Seasons
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "Soldani Dieci Anni" CD/LP/Track Review Soldani Dieci Anni
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 5, 2016
Read "Zea" CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.