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Pat Metheny: Welcome to the Machine

Combining a yen for solo projects and a career-long immersion in music technology, Pat Metheny explores another frontier: “orchestrionics”

Pat Metheny with Orchestrion
Pat Metheny & Orchestrion

The scene is almost eerie: an abandoned red brick church in a Polish section of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, doors all apparently well shut. A bit of searching reveals an entrance with a buzzer, behind a rusted front gate. First buzz, nothing. Second buzz, and at this point you’d fully expect some wizened janitor to open the creaking door and glare. But no, it’s Pat Metheny, all smiles, hair tucked under a backwards Yankees cap.

Inside, the entire carpeted ground floor is a makeshift concert stage-the rehearsal set of the Orchestrion tour, perhaps the most conceptually radical project Metheny has ever undertaken. The eye scans across a full ensemble’s worth of instruments, but they are set to play automatically, powered by a complex system of electromagnetic (solenoid) and pneumatic switches. A robot band, crudely put.

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