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Pat Metheny - Orchestrion CD (album) cover


Pat Metheny


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 86 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Orchestrion' - Pet Metheny (8/10)

Through my experience with Paul Metheny, I may not have loved everything I have heard from him, but I have come to really respect him as a brilliant fusion guitarist. When I don't care for something of his, it is usually a matter of it being too smooth for my tastes, and I tend to get a bit bored despite the dynamic musicianship throughout each album. It is the albums that seek to be more than mere mood music that I've found I care about the most; 'The Way Up' is the chief example of this, through its dynamic and diverse approach. Happily, I find Metheny's 2010 offering 'Orchestrion' to be an album that has enough going on for it to jump out of the background. As skilled a composer as he is a guitarist, 'Orchestrion' proves Pat Metheny is still at the height of his game.

As the title may suggest, this is more than the quartet or trio style of jazz that some might be used to. While the piano, clean guitar tone and mellow drums are all staples here, the arrangements are fairly complex here. Enter the title track 'Orchestrion', a piece which features rapidfire guitar and xylophone harmonies that are much in the sound of Frank Zappa. The xylophone is never a leading instrument for any of the work on 'Orhcestrion', but it instead serves as being a great way to add depth to the already good sound Metheny has crafted here. The complexity here aside, there is not enough here to entail an orchestra, which I may have thought was the case for this album.

The performances here are admirable, especially in the complex lead arrangements. Metheny performs everything heard on 'Orchestrion', and it is very clear to any listening that he's a brilliant multi-instrumentalist. The cornerstone of the music is certainly the guitar, of which Metheny uses a clean guitar sound quite typical of jazz. Much to an ironic effect however, the guitars are one of my less favourite aspects of the sound here. Certainly as talented a soloist as any other guitarist in jazz fusion, it does feel after a few minutes into the album that Metheny is merely noodling around with the lead. This is all done extremely well, but the sheer amount of album time spent showcasing his guitar talents feels as if it hinders the composition of the work, which is otherwise excellent.

Pat Metheny's work is usually decided based on the writing of the music, rather than the strength of the performance, which is always top notch. While not the best album I have heard the man churn out, there is certainly the clear evidence of careful writing here, especially when Metheny takes out some unexpected instruments out like the tambla drums and incorporates it into the mix. That being said, there are not as many hooks or dynamics as I may have liked to see here.

'Orchestrion' may not show Metheny's vision at its strongest, but it is certainly one of the better things the man has come out with. A complex, somewhat mellow but consistently entertaining album, 'Orchestrion' is an excellent album for intelligent relaxation.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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