Orchestrion (Nonesuch Records, 2010)
Pat Metheny is an outstanding musical innovator and guitarist, who is always exploring new ideas, blending contemporary jazz with world music, classical and electronic elements. His latest project, titled is Orchestrion, seems to belong in a Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam fantasy world. Orchestrion is an idea that was conceived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The project consist of a large mechanical multi-instrument device that utilizes actual orchestral instruments of various types, called an “Orchestrion.”
Pat Metheny takes advantage of today’s technology and he has created his own Orchestrion, which includes a large ensemble of acoustic instruments: several pianos, drum kit, marimbas, “guitar-bots,” dozens of percussion instruments and even cabinets of carefully tuned bottles. Metheny worked for months with a brilliant team of scientists and engineers to develop and assemble the “New Orchestrion” for this project.
Metheny controls the entire orchestra through his guitar. With his signature guitar sound and the Orchestrion, Metheny has composed five mesmerizing new original pieces. “As the instruments started to trickle in from the various inventors,” Metheny says, “the experience of writing for them and figuring out what might be possible with them provided a self-imposed challenge that proved to be difficult and time-consuming, but absolutely exhilarating. I am excited to share this project. If nothing else, this has turned out to be something unique.
And in the process of developing all this music and these instruments and discovering what they can do and what they are good at, I learned so much. It feels like progress and has gotten some notes out of me that I didn’t know were there. But the surprise was just how far I was able to go with it all. Within this new environment, I found something in there that took me to some new places.”
Orchestrion is an impressive and beautiful album by one of the United States’ most important musicians.
Buy Pat Metheny’s recordings:
- In North America: Orchestrion. Other recordings available: Secret Story, Offramp, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, Letter from Home, Still Life (Talking)
- In Europe: Orchestrion. Other recordings available: Offramp, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, Secret Story
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.