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SUBJECT: AAJ Review: Pat Metheny, The Orchestron Back to Subjects
djbinder
Oct 26 2012
at 3:50 AM
A review of guitarist Pat Metheny’s The Orchestrion Project, today at All About Jazz. With Metheny’s complex pneumatic and solenoid-drive orchestrion of guitars, basses, keyboards, bottles, percussion and more, this DVD/Blu-Ray (also in 3d) was not recorded live in front of an audience, to allow more flexibility with shooting from many angles on the stage. Instead, it’s a replication of a show from his 2011 live tour, similar set list and staging. Beyond the entire Orchestrion (Nonesuch, 2010) recording, there are some wonderful older tracks revisited, going right back to 1975’s Bright Size Life and "Unity Village." Beautifully recorded, and a treat to watch, there’s also some bonus material including a making of featurette, interview and two videos from the original album recording sessions. Review here: http://j.mp/R4Lj7R
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Tom Rudd
Jan 03 2013
at 9:46 AM
Bookmark and Share All good points dj, Tell you the truth, I have not listened to these 2 other guitarists you have mentioned. I will take A listen to understand more of what you are baseing your opinion on. As far being a musician, I did not say that to undermine your credibility. I was just making a point. I do bevieve being musically eduacted helps you to understand music such as this to form a more credible opinion.
mightymouse
Jan 02 2013
at 12:29 PM
Bookmark and Share heres a quote from pat about ZTFS from a book i have, he says "i want to grab different pictures of melody and away from diatonic sound toward pure sound —where it stops being about notes, and is about sound, instead. the first track of ’zero tolerance,’ i’d put that on the top five of all the things i’ve recorded." thats from the man himself so who am i going to really listen too? the real guy making the music not some trumped up half azzed critic who thinks their opinions count....
mightymouse
Jan 02 2013
at 12:10 PM
Bookmark and Share one way to listen to music is to be clear like meditation, listen to what it really is without any of your own filters or expectations the music will tell you what its all about, listen with no ego or biases
franksexton
Jan 02 2013
at 11:46 AM
Bookmark and Share I remember reading about where one of the musicians on The Sign of the Four was playing the album in his house and his wife started giving him grief.
djbinder
Jan 02 2013
at 11:31 AM
Bookmark and Share One more thing, Tom: I don’t know if Pat considers it a failed experiment or not, but it really isn’t relevant to my opinion that it is. I think, in the realm of noise improv, and electronic explorations of what a guitar can do beyond convention, there are others doing it more successfully than Metheny, specifically guitarists like Stian Westerhus and Eivind Aarset from Norway. Could they do what Pat does when he rips through changes with absolute aplomb? No way. But when it comes to exploring how far you can take a guitar sonically, in that realm they’re doing it far more successfully - in my opinion, of course. And you’ll notice, in my best of the year list, that all three guitarists - Pat, Eivind and Stian - were on it, all for different reasons. Cheers!
djbinder
Jan 02 2013
at 11:27 AM
Bookmark and Share Well, Tom, I actually **am** a professional musician (well, lapsed now as the writing has taken precedence) and spent more than a decade, amongst other things, as the house guitarist in a recording studio. Not saying I’m at Metheny’s level (few are), but I know my way around my instrument (guitar also, btw) and the recording process to be able to render, I think, an informed opinion. But I am not sure why folks are having such trouble with what has been clearly stated as an opinion. Or that I believe it still had value, as Metheny has taken some of the things that happened with that record forward into other projects. I am not suggesting the recording shouldn’t have happened. I think that everything a musician does, failed or no, ultimately contributes to who they are and who they become; in fact, I hold a lot of respect for musicians who take the big risks, even if they don’t always succeed - and they don’t always, because no musician is perfect. You can choose to disagree with me, of course, but I don’t think it’s particularly germane to question credentials for having an opinion, otherwise every person who participates here at this forum would need to qualify their opinions. Or is it only necessary to qualify an opinion about Metheny when it’s a negative one? :)
Tom Rudd
Jan 02 2013
at 9:13 AM
Bookmark and Share OK I understand what you are saying dj, and i am probably going to get flamed for saying this but in my experience studied professional musicians are more capable of understanding and comprehending this type of experimental music. Do you believe Pat would consider this a failed effort? If so, I don’t believe you understand the reason why this piece was recorded in the first place.
franksexton
Jan 02 2013
at 9:05 AM
Bookmark and Share so how about The Orchestrion Project ? ;)
djbinder
Jan 02 2013
at 7:28 AM
Bookmark and Share mightymouse, nobody (at least not I) am suggesting that ZTFS was done half-assed. Even failed experiments can (and often are) be the result of a lot of work and deep dedication. But to me, while the album is simply not something that worked for me, there being better examples of this kind of experimentation out there, imo, that doesn’t mean, as I keep saying, that it didn’t have value, as there are definitely things that he took from the sessions and applied to subsequent works. Failed experiments, you see, do not have to be irrelevant experiments either, and I’d certainly not suggest ZTFS was irrelevant in Metheny’s discography.
djbinder
Jan 02 2013
at 7:25 AM
Bookmark and Share Antonete, my bad...sorry, for some reason I thought each time he flipped labels he started with a challenge. Sorry ’bout that folks!
mightymouse
Dec 31 2012
at 5:31 PM
Bookmark and Share i disagree, if you listen to all of his work he does nothing half assed if you don’t get it it doesn’t mean its failed or a dead end, thats why pats been trailblaizing since the late 70s and your putting your opinion on a forum, content content content.
bluepno
Dec 31 2012
at 9:56 AM
Bookmark and Share I think blisterfree nailed it...
blisterfree
Dec 29 2012
at 1:59 AM
Bookmark and Share Would it be more productive to measure the objective value of a long-standing musical work by how influential it’s ultimately proven to be? In this sense, ZTFS may rightly fall by the wayside as a one-off experiment that neither informed the future of Pat’s work to any great degree, nor found itself emulated to any repute by other jazz or avant-garde-leaning artists. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say, and Pat’s body of work obviously looms large over multiple genres, but there are inevitable dead-ends along the path of musical exploration. Regardless of what any one person thinks of the album, ZTFS would seem to be one of these dead-ends. Or at least one that didn’t inform much of what’s followed since.
Antoñete
Dec 28 2012
at 4:45 PM
Bookmark and Share Well no, ZTFS wasn’t Pat’s last album for Geffen. Quartet was recorded for that label two years later.
Antoñete
Dec 28 2012
at 4:43 PM
Bookmark and Share Djbinder, wasn’t ZTFS Pat’s last record for Geffen? As I recall, his first release for Warner was Imaginary Day.
djbinder
Dec 28 2012
at 7:31 AM
Bookmark and Share And sorry, Tom, I cannot agree with you. Music **can** fail on an artistic/creative level. It’s up to the listener to decide whether, to him/her, it succeeds. I stand by my opinion, and it is only an opinion, that ZTFS is a failed experiment but, again I repeat, that needn’t suggest it had/has no value, as even failed experiments can result in moving the music forward and using some of the lessons learned from the project, as Metheny certainly has done. The truth is he’d not be the same, today, had he not DONE ZTFS, and so that makes it an absolutely essential part of his oeuvre, even if it’s not considered one of his better efforts. It was, indeed, indicative of a guy, however, with the cojones (got it!) to make it his first album for Warner Bros, just like he did when he moved to Geffen in the ’80s, making his first release Song X.I’m sure, in both cases, the record labels cringed (though SOng X has, of course, fared much better)...but ya gotta love a guy who signs with a major label and, with his first release, says, "I’m here, I’m yours, but when it comes to the music, I’ll do what I want!" :)
djbinder
Dec 28 2012
at 7:25 AM
Bookmark and Share Antonete, oops! Where’s that spell checker when I need it!! :)
Antoñete
Dec 27 2012
at 5:20 PM
Bookmark and Share Djbinder, I guess what Neil Young has are "cojones". "Cajones" are drawers, je, je. Well he surely must have some drawer at home, too.
Tom Rudd
Dec 27 2012
at 1:13 PM
Bookmark and Share If i can add my 2 Cents. ZTFS has to be defined, listened to and tried to be understood on a artistic level. If you perceive it in that respect it can never fail. Popularity and sales for this type of music is almost non-existent since the listening demographic for this type of art form is so small.
mightymouse
Dec 24 2012
at 7:21 PM
Bookmark and Share the music exists regardless of ones opinion, and you and i are of course entitled to different ones , of course if it was a failure we wouldn’t be discussing it, the message sent in the music will reverberate thru time regardless of what u or i may say about it, and thats why i can’t stand people who write about something they know nothing about of course some people need to read about it but to follow it based on someones point of view is the worse thing that one can do, this music demands ones full attention without bias and opinions then one will really know if it speaks to them or not.
bluepno
Dec 24 2012
at 8:59 AM
Bookmark and Share communication,expression,languag e,reception are all pure elements of the sound and mightymouse you are correct....we each listen and interpret the signals. No one is really wrong.
djbinder
Dec 24 2012
at 8:43 AM
Bookmark and Share One more thing Mightymouse, since you can’t seem to let it go: I prefaced my statement with "I **think** of ZTFS as a failed experiment." I didn’t state it as fact. I simply offered my opinion, as do you. So lighten up.
djbinder
Dec 24 2012
at 8:41 AM
Bookmark and Share Mightymouse, I think your problem is if someone doesn’t agree with your view and they’re a critic (a term i actually hate), you castigate them. Of COURSE my assessment of the record is from my perspective, just as yours is. The goal of good writing, and certainly something to which I aspire (and,admittedly, don’t always succeed...it’s always a learning process) is to be objective and provide the reader with enough information to make their own decision as to whether or not they like might want to check out the music in question. But even the most objective attempts are filtered through a personal prism, just as yours are (and I don’t go "that’s why I can’t stand fans!"). For me, ZTFS is a failed experiment because it has, ultimately, gone down as such in terms of popularity and sales- heck, a friend of mine at a record store told me that when the album first came out, the distributor recommended carrying very few copies, if any at all. That sounds like a failure, at least one one level, to me. That said, you seem to ignore my subsequent comment that, despite it being a failed experiment in and of itself, it’s not without value. Even failed experiments are worth doing for an artist, as at the very least it gives them the opportunity to try something out and, if it doesn’t exactly work, they can still walk away with ideas that can be used in future projects more successfully, as I’d certainly say is the case here. In the rock world, for example, Neil Young has been known to try whatever is moving him at a given time - and it doesn’t always work (Trans being a popularly cited example). That doesn’t mean I don’t respect him for trying - heck, it means I respect him MORE, for having the cajones to try - any more than I do Metheny for trying ZTFS. Not everything we do can succeed - especially when we’re in the risky landscape of improvisation. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but in many of those cases, if the destination isn’t reached, the journey is worth the trip. But back to your original comment, it sure seems to me that your assessment of writers is based on whether or not the agree with your views. And one thing I tell writers at AAJ, always, is: we are not the arbiters of what is good or bad, only of what we like. What you like/dislike is no more good/bad than what I do. I just have a forum for my thoughts...and were you so inclined, you could, too.
mightymouse
Dec 23 2012
at 11:37 AM
Bookmark and Share i don’t think of ZTFS as a failed experiment at all, your applying your own preferences as to what you think the music is. thats why i can’t stand critics, your writing for yourself not about the music, its only sound and your comparing it to some other music, it is what it is and as far as i can tell you are not really listening, there should be no judgment or opinion of what it is supposedly to be based on a critics narrow minded biased and self serving view. its just music thats all it is you give it the labels and clothes
bluepno
Dec 22 2012
at 9:31 AM
Bookmark and Share I have always loved Interstellar Space. It captured me on the first listen back in the mid 70’s.
Tom Rudd
Dec 20 2012
at 9:38 PM
Bookmark and Share Interstellar Space was is one of my favorites too.
Tom Rudd
Dec 20 2012
at 9:38 PM
Bookmark and Share Interstellar Space was is one of my favorites to.
franksexton
Dec 19 2012
at 8:22 AM
Bookmark and Share Tom , the way Pat mutitracked the guitars remined me a lot of what Steve Reitch does in Guitsr Counterpoint. To suggest that Pat was giving the finger to his record company is just absurd. For the record (pardon the pun), I still prefer Pat’s sound like Leter from Home or Farmer’s Trust.
Tom Rudd
Dec 18 2012
at 9:03 AM
Bookmark and Share IMO ZTFS is experimental music. And should be listened to in that frame of mind. Whether you like it or not is not important. In many instances it is something no musician has ever attempted to do before, that is one reason why it is so unique. Some musicians would not even categorize this as music. Many experimental Classical composers such as Phillip Glass, Karlheinz Stockhausan, and Steve Reich have created the same type of sound collage in there recordings. I used to listen to a lot of these composers when I was younger,just to try to understand what they were exactly trying to create. I can’t listen to much of this type of experimental music anymore. You really need a lot of patience to let this kind of stuff sink in.
franksexton
Dec 17 2012
at 3:40 PM
Bookmark and Share I finally got to listen to ZTFS for myself! WOW ! I guess it’s like the bells from Satna’s sleigh in the the movie The Polor Express where you either hear the bell or you don’t.
franksexton
Nov 07 2012
at 11:45 AM
Bookmark and Share I wonder how ZTFS would compare with Interstellar Space Revisited , which I do like a lot (I also like ’Trane’s Interstellar Space). My library also has The Sign of Four which I may revisit.
djbinder
Nov 06 2012
at 8:54 AM
Bookmark and Share Nobody’s knocking ZTFS (at least, not me); there’s no denying it was controversial (heck, a local record store told me that the distributor told him NOT to stock it when it was first released); as I said, I personally think of it as a failed experiment, but one which was still valuable, as lessons learned from it were used going forward into other projects, and that makes it absolutely worthwhile. And when I say failed, that is of course a personal opinion. While I see the value in Metheny having done the record, it’s not one I listen to much...if at all. I just don’t like it. But that doesn’t mean it has no value. It just means I don’t like it :)
mightymouse
Nov 05 2012
at 12:58 PM
Bookmark and Share what’s the big deal with ZERO TOLERANCE FOR SILENCE? if one actually say transcribed some of the tunes, and played it on other instruments it would be more pleasurable for those not wanting to swim in deep waters or volcanic matter.
franksexton
Nov 05 2012
at 11:43 AM
Bookmark and Share I guess that should be bored, not boarded (it’s not hockey after all) .
franksexton
Nov 05 2012
at 10:13 AM
Bookmark and Share interestingly (is that a word ?) there is another review where the reviewer went to see orchestrian because his parents liked it, was boarded out of his mind, but then decided to listen to ZTFS.
Chris Digger
Nov 04 2012
at 3:35 PM
Bookmark and Share hi hman01, every critic of ZTFS should try to play the whole ZTFS-album on his/her guitar, only to find out that he/she couldn´t do/perform it. It´s like painting one of Picasso´s works as he accomplished them.
hman01
Nov 03 2012
at 2:35 PM
Bookmark and Share Oh yes,I remember when I was 12 years old,I got a little cassette recorder for Christmas.Of all things,it came with a little microphone and loud speaker capabilities.I put the recorder on"monitor" setting and put the microphone inside my baritone uke.I then proceeded to rock out! Unfortunately,I did not record this artistically adventurous project.But,if there had been a comercially distributed recording of "12 Year Old Going Crazy".I’m sure it would have gone out of print faster than ZTFS.
franksexton
Nov 02 2012
at 9:37 AM
Bookmark and Share no problem, John, there are pleny of other reviews out there. I found one that even likes the album!
Chris Digger
Oct 31 2012
at 9:05 AM
Bookmark and Share Good said, DJ!
djbinder
Oct 30 2012
at 5:08 PM
Bookmark and Share Alas, I never reviewed it at the time, Frank, and can’t say I’d have the time to do a proper review of it now. In a nutshell, however, I’d call it a failed experiment, but one that still had value (as is often the case) because even if the album itself is not necessarily a success, there were a number of places that it pushed Pat to which he’d never been before, and which most certainly impacted later work in one way or another.
franksexton
Oct 29 2012
at 1:59 PM
Bookmark and Share John , I would very interested in a review from you of "Zero Tolerence for Silence", which I admit I don’t understand.
blisterfree
Oct 29 2012
at 2:06 AM
Bookmark and Share Nice review, detail-wise. One note, regarding "The titles of "Improvisation #2" and "Sueño con México," the latter from 1979’s New Chatuauqua (ECM), are accidentally flipped, but it’s a small enough (and recognizable) error." -- Looks like this has been fixed on my copy purchased at the Berklee show. And another note: I see any lingering ’controversy’ over the Orchestrion melting away like a glacier in a warming world once folks lay eyes on the Man and his Machines in action. It’s like a mission to Mars for musicians and fans alike - pretty hard to remain skeptical when you see it successfully pulled off in real time.
djbinder
Oct 26 2012
at 6:29 PM
Bookmark and Share Frank, there were certainly a lot of critics...and even fans...who poopoo’d the very concept. So in relative terms,a controversial record.
franksexton
Oct 26 2012
at 9:24 AM
Bookmark and Share as always , a very well written review by John. I never thought of Orchestron as controversial , however. "When guitarist Pat Metheny released Orchestrion (Nonesuch) in 2010, it almost immediately became one of his most controversial recordings since Zero Tolerance for Silence (Warner Bros., 1992)."
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