The first time I heard Pierre Bastien and his 'mecanoid' orchestra was a live performance on Radio 4's musically diverse Mixing It show. His performance was part of a Rephlex weekend at the Barbican, where various Rephlex artists explored their sounds with visual elements and a more conceptual approach.
Bastien's performance consisted of various pieces from Mecanoid and this invariably spurred me on to buy the record.
From the outset Mecanoid is a lush piece of work that combines repetitive and overtly mechanical sounds (such as whirrs, clicks, taps, drones, etc.) with the beautiful melodies performed by Bastien himself on different instruments (the most memorable being a lugubrious muted trumpet).
What adds further to this sonic spectacle are the elements of errors and mistakes. As a glut of producers and artists around the world create tracks and compositions that play on digital glitches and appropriate sounds that would once have been discarded in the creation process, it is fantastic to witness this notion in a more physical and none electronic capacity. The mecanoids that Bastien has created often suffer from ailments that all mechanical machines do at some point in their (rusty, un-oiled!) lives. So as we listen to his compositions rhythms and timing changes as the mechanoids become 'stuck'. Beats are missed, notes are played longer but without hindering the performance. If anything it conjures up a human-like element that is often missing within electronic performance, it adds warmth and reminds the listener of the base beauty of Bastien's concept.
This whole album is a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end and creates an ambience that is difficult to equal in this world of software and hardware.