Monday, February 08, 2010

Pat Metheny - Orchestrion (Nonesuch, 2010)

This album is a unique "solo" project with guitarist Pat Metheny and a raft of machine controlled musical instruments. Inspired by experimenting with a player piano in his grandfather's basement, which led to a life-long love of technology and its musical applications. It's easy to imagine Metheny in a basement laboratory somewhere preparing his army of musical machines to embark on world conquest. In the end it is a pleasant and enjoyable album to listen to, although not the most exciting and dynamic, falling somewhere in the middle of the softer rounded curves of the Pat Metheny Group and the rougher sound of his trio records. "Orchestrion" has a full, rich sound with mallets and strings leading the way. Metheny's soft toned guitar improvises over the top of the action. The music seems intricately orchestrated, and the music flows organically at a medium tempo, before the pace picks up at the end with piano bubbling to the top. "Entry Point" is slower and more spacious, pretty, but mild and mellow. Metheny takes a slow and patient guitar solo on this track. "Expansion" has a medium-up tempo with a light, floating sound. Guitar synth and light toned "regular" guitar are used for nimble solos. "Soul Search" has piano opening the performance before the rest of the instrumentation come in sounding mild and mellow (and a little too bland for me, to be honest.) Malleted percussion and creates a nice foundation for a snaking and slithering guitar solo on "Spirit of the Air" to wrap things up. Orchestrion - amazon.com

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