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Mecha-Exotica MP3s

Pierre Bastien‘s recent record out on Rephlex, titled Pop, like its predecessor, Mecanoid, creates shopworn arrangements from instruments largely of Bastien’s own creation. These aren’t instruments as in virtual plugins for software or homebrew synthesizers, but dilapidated contraptions that have steampunk charm, acoustic instruments strummed by electric motors, birdlike whirlygig-pets chirping on command, a kind of mecha-exotica. By way of example, he’s posted four full tracks on his website. Two are from Mecanoid, the warbly, nostalgic “Avid Diva” (MP3), a small menagerie of mallets and strings, and “Damn Mad” (MP3), which has as its root rhythm a scratched record and a slack drum. Two others are from the decade-old Boite #3 on Editions Cactus: “L’Orchestre Thermo-dynamique” (MP3), in which wheezy breaths and saliva-stained trumpet abet octogenarian-paced arrangements, and “Odovinil” (MP3), the most disorienting of the batch, which uses a messed up gospel record as its fulcrum. (The “Odovinil” link on Bastien’s site is misdirected, but it’s correct here.) If you can break yourself from their spell, track down Bastien’s 1988 Mecanium for its randy take on Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” More info at pierrebastien.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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