Nearly two decades ago, a little company known as Animusic created its very first ever animation. That animation was titled, “Beyond The Walls.” The release of that animation spawned the release of the even bigger animation, “Pipe Dreams.” When these original computer generated pieces were created, they were little more than the realization of a group of individuals’ dreams. Fast forward sixteen years, and a handful of releases later, and those dreams have actually become reality thanks to musician Pat Metheny and a group of inventors. Sure the inventions used in his new project aren’t exactly like those presented in Animusic’s videos. But the similarity in style is striking.
Metheny’s new Blu-ray and DVD presentation of The Orchestrion Project has made the dreams formed in the Animusic DVD’s a reality to an extent. While Metheny didn’t make the machine operated musical instruments, he made himself to be a one man band as he operated everything around him with little more than the push of a pedal. That the machines in those videos would be inspiration for something real and physical is amazing. That they actually work is even more incredible. And that Metheny was able to control so many different instruments while playing his own guitar without missing a single note or beat is beyond words. It makes him a virtual one-man-band. At a time when so much music has become watered down and generally lacking in originality, Metheny’s own musicianship combined with this vast array of machines and instruments makes this performance one of the most original of this year, if not the single most original of the year. From the gentility of ‘Sueno con Mexico’ (I dream with Mexico, roughly translated) to the equally interesting ‘Improvisation #2’ to the five movements of the performance’s title song, this experimental jazz recording is a recording that every musician should experience at least once, regardless of which genre one prefers. This recording just goes to show the genius of both Metheny and the individuals behind the musical machines presented with him.
The musical performances presented in The Orchestrion Project are the main highlight of this release. Though as is the case with any home DVD and Blu-ray, bonus features can add to or detract from said presentation. The Orchestrion Project is one of those cases in which the bonus features enhance the primary feature. Of those bonus features included in the DVD and Blu-ray, the “Interview With Pat Metheny” is the most insightful. Audiences will laugh a little bit hearing Metheny exclaim that this recording was the strangest thing that he’d ever done. Sure, he was going out on a limb. But as anyone will see from the performance, that proverbial limb held strong. He also adds insight in his interview as to what exactly an “orchestrion” is. He goes into something similar to music theory in discussing this. This is something else that any well trained musician will appreciate. Along with that discussion on semi-music theory, Metheny also discusses his reasoning for wanting to embark on this project, and even the potential of future releases such as this. The nearly twenty-minute interview adds so much to what viewers see in the disc’s main feature. Together, they make for a live performance of a completely different type. It’s a live performance that any true music lover will enjoy.
The Orchestrion Project is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered online direct via Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website, http://www.eagle-rock.com.
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