Pierre Bastien – Blue As An Orange

3 out of 5

Produced by: Pierre Bastien

Label: Morphine Records

Pierre Bastien’s meccano compositions – instruments played by mechanized parts attached to some type of method of movement, such as a turntable – occupy an interesting corner of the experimental music crowd.  The achievement of his style alone would be enough for some: to call his contraptions a project that represents X, Y or Z and leave it at that.  But his habit of naming all of his tracks as palindromes (e.g. Edo Ode), and, if you read any of his liner notes, his appreciation for rhythm and patterns, suggest that he does have a goal of melody or song.  And various releases have him dancing around that goal, drawn closer or further away by that album’s technical focus.

On Blue As An Orange, the Meccano sensations is drawn back, mostly (or so it seems), to the core beat , which, with Bastien, is normally a tone, or a clicking sound.  Atop this he’s layered some very interesting organic elements, such as harp, harpsichord, and a gathering of international wind instruments.  When the instruments lead the way, we get some amazingly varied tracks – yet built around a similar refrain – that at times feel mirthful, or contemplative, or haunting.  The B side is chock full of such moments, culminating in the nigh-aggressive Seven Eyes, before things wrap back down to minimalist repetition for the last two tracks.  The A side is a bit more confusing.  While introducing the album’s themes in the 10 minute Tin Unit, the initial attempt at bridging the electronic / organic gap strikes gold for a few minutes before the track shifts gears completely, as though Bastien was unsure where to take things thereafter.  The remainder of side A somewhat follows suit, tepidly stepping out of its subtle clicks and beats for brief flourishes.  The sounds are still interesting, but the promise of those first few minutes doesn’t feel fulfilled until the B side.