PIERRE BASTIEN  (born Paris, 1953) post-graduated in eighteenth-century French literature at University Paris-Sorbonne. In 1977 he built his first musical machinery. For the next ten years he has been composing for dance companies and playing with Pascal Comelade. In the meantime he was constantly developing his mechanical orchestra. Since 1987 he concentrates on it through solo performances, sound installations, recordings and collaborations with such artists as Pierrick Sorin, Karel Doing, Jean Weinfeld, Robert Wyatt or Issey Miyake.

The French composer and multi-instrumentalist Pierre Bastien played first in some collective bands (Operation Rhino, Nu Creative Methods, Effectifs de Profil), and with the Dominique Bagouet Dance Company.

Around 1986 he started participating in Pascal Comelade’s Bel Canto Orquesta. At the same time he created – and literally built – his own orchestra called Mecanium : an ensemble of musical automatons constructed from meccano parts and activated by electro-motors, that are playing on acoustic instruments from all over the world.

” A composer’s dream : a fail-safe orchestra at one’s fingertips obeying ever so gently to his every command : a timeless sounding orchestra, both futuristic and slightly dada, conjuring ancient traditions in its surprisingly sensuous music. This is, in a nutshell what Pierre Bastien’s “Mecanium” is all about, a daydream of sorts that he has successfully pursued since 1976. The musicians of his orchestra are machines. And the idea behind it is simple, efficient and poetic : to have traditional instruments (Chinese lute, Morrocan bendir, Javanese saron, koto, violin, sanza, etc.) played by a mechanical instrument made of meccano pieces and recycled turntable motors. These hybrid and self-playing sound sculptures perform a series of short pieces, charming and hypnotic. ” (Michel F.)

In the nineties the mechanical orchestra developed up to 80 elements. It took part in music festivals and art exhibitions in Norway (World Music Days’90), Australia (Tisea’92), Japan (Artec’95), Canada (Fimav’95, Sound Symposium’98), Poland (Warsaw Autumn’95), United States (Flea Festival’96)

In the recent years, Pierre Bastien and his machines collaborated with video artist Pierrick Sorin, fashion designer Issey Miyake, British singer and composer Robert Wyatt, Trottola circus company, musicians Alexei Aigi, Steve Arguelles and Phonophani. The most recent compositions were released on Western Vinyl and Rephlex.




Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

This month as I have been obsessing about Matrix Mixers and David Tudor. I asked my friend to help me build a 8 x 8 passive matrix mixer ta add a lot of tone and grain in my sound. This week after a busy few weeks, was able to play with the mixer.
My first pass. Still not properly grounded in my case but I still had great fun nonetheless.
In this set up I was utilizing it as the main output mixer. The passive mixer gave some texture to the smooth sine waves passing through it. Frequency shifter is a revelation for me in this patch, it can go from tiny plucked string like sounds to really downright nasty tones.
I’ll try to upload a better quality audio by tomorrow.

Inconnu Ictu Feedback from Harvey A Vasquez on Vimeo.

Every Saturday afternoon, with good graces from widdly and his wife. I get to play and learn a lot more than I can muster on this little machine. The 4 hours of wiggling with a can of coke to booth is priceless. I hope to get a firmer grasp on terms and concepts in the next few weeks before mine will be delivered straight from AUS.
This has been turning into a favorite module so far.

Dual Universal Slope Generator from Jon Nensén on Vimeo.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2


Beginning again on their recurring Wednesday evening of improvised sonic textures punctuated by blinding shards of flicker fields & errant acoustics are: Bani Haykal on bass clarinet + guitar + electronics, Brian O’Reilly on prepared contrabass + electronics, Darren Moore on drums + sound objects & Mohamad Riduan on a magical array of amplified sound textures + electronics. Joining them are special guest Harvey Vasquez and Yan Jun for an evening of abstract electo-acoustic muzak!

Bani Haykal:
Bass Clarinet

Brian O’Reilly:
Prepared Contrabass

Darren Moore:
Sound Objects

Mohamad Riduan:
Amplified Textured Sounds

Harvey A Vasquez:
Circuit Bent Radio
Hex Schmitt Trigger Synth
NAND Gate Synth

Joanne Lazaro:
Camera Canon G10

The group has been playing as a quartet these past few months, playing improvise jam at the Night and Day Bar every Wednesday. But has been slowed this past month because of individual commitments. I had been invited by Bani to come over and play with them for this particular installment. So I brought along with me a few choice handheld electronic instruments that could compliment the already mature sound of the group.
There was a few people documenting Darren’s musical activities so we were able to tag along with the free publicity. Although I don’t have any idea where or when it will be shown.
The group did one set as a quartet to start off, then I was able to come in on the second set, which was recorded here in video with the help of my girlfriend Joanne. Then Darren and Brian did a Duo, followed by another duo performance by Bani and Mohamad.
As a night cap, we did the last set as a quintet which lasted for approximately 30 minuites. This was an epic jam that unfortunately I wasn’t able to record in full. I have already requested Darren for a copy and will hopefully post it in the near future.


No Input Mixer. (Onkyokei)
Just a quick dry video of an experimentation with no input mixer using a 4 track recorder that someone gave me last weekend. Note that this was on its lowest volume, this will definitely be blasted on the next performance.

Harvey A Vasquez:
X-28 Fostex 4 Track Recorder

Recorded on:
Camera Canon G10