Pierre Bastien | Tinkle Twang ‘n Tootle
French composer Pierre Bastien has been recording since the late 80’s, solo as well as in ensembles and other collaborations. I’ve only been exposed his his work scantly over the years, and listening to this I wonder why I haven’t dug in much deeper. His sound sort of creeps up on you, a bit of a snakecharmer style. Opener Smart Lilt Rams is a bit Mediterranean, a bit jazzy, mixed with low key electronics. It’s an inventive sound that rides a line in the animated and charming place between David Van Tieghem and Les Baxter. It’s gentle, but offers a pick-me-up vibe.
Tinkle Twang ‘n Tootle feels of another time that you can’t really put your thumb on, maybe it’s from vintage Italian cinema, or perhaps something with the essence of the Congo (?) – though more like a hybrid of these things. As Bastien tinkers away these subdued rhythms are full of occasional effects that ring out like someone working in a metalsmith’s shop of some sort (Tenet), but instead of creating obtuse random sounds, these noises seem in tune with his themes. Through twang and thump the atmosphere is quite thick and crestfallen on Rail at a Liar. The notes breath in and out, expelling a deep bass while other effects are like a scared puppy running for cover. It’s so unusual.
“Playful and melancholic, the sound sculptures that Bastien invents and plays with are partly inspired by the work of Raymond Roussel, a visionary French author who at the turn of the 20th century wrote a unique form of literature which inspired and guided artists from the surrealist and pataphysical movement and was declared by Michel Foucault as one of structuralism’s founding fathers.”
By employing some rhythmic rock riffs on May Yam Wedded Dew the piece stands in the balance of an otherwise repetitive loop of super restrained percussive effects (like a broken duck call). The piece has a watery glaze, like we are listening to a Wurlitzer through a waterfall – this is a unique lil’ melody I’ve never heard elsewhere. A hint of grandma’s record collection run through an organ grinder (so to speak). Think sitting along the canals of Venice, still drunk on sweet wine from the night before, and the day is dawning.
Bastien uses these tiny croaking sounds here and there over the course of the record, they are effective and add a lilt to his visual aesthetic. Finally on Don’s Nod we are greeted by a sleepy neon lit spy thriller theme that’s a bit burlesque, part reverie, and by all means a one-off here, the toms and organ chords are languidly stirring in this sly wave goodbye.