Pat Metheny – Orchestrion Review

Orchestrion. Sounds like the Pat Metheny Group, but it’s not.  Pat’s going solo on this one with a band full of bots.  And he’s touring with them too.  I’ve got my tickets for the May 20 date in Boston.

Ok, I’ve read the liner notes on the Orchestrion CD and have seen several videos of Pat explaining the concept and I understand what’s he’s done, but not how he’s done it exactly.  Briefly here, he had some instruments designed for him that are solenoid based and operate like pneumatics.  He programmed the instruments to play the compositions.  He then improvises with his guitar over the mechanical ensemble, which includes a bottle organ, basses, bells, marimba, vibraphone, drums, pianos and more.  No Lyle, Steve or Antonio.

My question.  When these bots solo on stage, do we clap? I will.

If you are reading this review, you probably already have the CD, and will instantly know what I mean when I say the music on Orchestrion is self- referential, which for me, as a Pat Metheny fan for many years, is a good thing.  I was worried that the music would be inaccessible or overshadowed by the technological aspects of the project.  Kind of like hearing the signature Synclavier when Pat recorded with it for the first time.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but over time, came to enjoy that expansive, Sun Ra type exploration.   But I was pleasantly surprised, and as is true with most of Pat’s compositions, true for me at least, with each listen, I hear more, and the more I hear, the more I like.  What is immediately noticeable are the references to other works including Secret Story, Off Ramp, Day Trip, Speaking of Now and on the last tune, a combination of the motifs in The Way Up and elements of a tune from Imaginary Day.

Orchestrion is another masterpiece and I can’t wait to watch and listen to Pat pull it off live.

2 Responses

  1. I’m so glad I’m going to the concert!

  2. […] shortly after it was released and listened to it over and over until I had it memorized.  See my review here.  I might have been one of the few in attendance who noticed he played the suite out of […]

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