Pierre Bastien


Musician, composer, and instrument builder, Pierre Bastien (b. 1953, Paris) began building mechanical-based musical instruments at an early age using items such as metronomes, cymbals, and pulleys.

In 1977, while composing music for Dominique Bagouet’s ‘Tartine’, Bastien developed his first musical machine by combining a turntable and cymbal with a Meccano (Erector set) structure. His continued exploration into analog sequencing, in which the ‘player’ is programmed rather than the instrument, gradually led Bastien to form his own mechanical orchestra in 1987. The ‘musicians’ of Bastien’s ‘Mecanium’ are an ensemble of elaborate contraptions constructed from Meccano sets and activated by electro-motors. Playing an eclectic mix of exotic and traditional instruments such as the Chinese lute, Morrocan bendir, Japanese saron, koto, and violin, captivating sound loops and multiple rhythms emerge as automation technology and ethnic folk instruments fuse together in Bastien’s futurist primitive orchestra. ‘These hybrid and self-playing sound sculptures perform a series of short pieces, charming and hypnotic, conjuring ancient traditions in its surprisingly sensuous music.’

Bastien has collaborated with a number of artists over the years including Pascal Comelade, Robert Wyatt, dj Low, Jaki Liebezeit (Can), video artist Pierrick Sorin, fashion designer Issey Miyake, and the Trottola circus. His work was shown in Kinetica's Soundwaves exhibition (2007).