Pierre Bastien

Visions of Doing

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Pierre Bastien's collaboration with filmmaker Karel Doing stretches over 20 years, and both men have exerted a strong influence on the other's art. Visions of Doing culls excerpts from Bastien's soundtracks for Doing's projects. The nine pieces selected (for about 35 minutes of music) have survived the ablation of their visual component very well, retaining the odd grace and antiquated beauty of Bastien's compositions. As usual, the instrumentation is provided by an array of mechanical robots made from building block sets. Some tracks have sound footage from the film included for ambience, like in the rapturing "Visions of Shangai," one of the disc's highlights. Quiet and delicate, this track ranks among Bastien's best but most subdued works. Other high marks are hit with the trumpet-led "The Girl from Surinam," the pressurized chugging of "The Thermodynamic Orchestra," and the singing-saw-over-approximate-toy-piano found in "South African Lady." There is no telling how painstaking and minute the building process must be to create the automatons for each "part" of the final score, but Bastien always achieves stunning results. The music limps and wobbles, but it follows its course, loops driven by cogs instead of computer chips, painting eerie and evocative aural landscapes. It's a perfect match for Doing's experiments with Super 8 and 16mm film and projectors, as can be seen on the unannounced (in the track list; Bastien mentions it vaguely in his liner notes) excerpt of Four Eyes included as a Quicktime movie on the disc. In it, you can even see some of Bastien's contraptions in action.

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