The scissors in Polly Fibre's piece reminded me of some traditional
African bands using this object as a percussive instrument. They
also reminded me of my own scissors player that I built about
twelve years ago. While listening to 'Reconstructing The Incredible'
it rapidly became obvious that my response should incorporate
some of Polly Fibre's beautiful sounds to introduce my robotic
scissors. I also liked the idea that the little sound sculpture
makes the rhythms of my piece visible, while Polly Fibre made
the editing of her piece audible.
In 1997 and 1998 I used to perform
with the scissors player. The other mechanical members of the
band at that time were playing a tea-pot, a comb, an ash-tray,
some pliers, a letter scale, a whisk and some tooth-brushes.
The pliers and the whisk don't belong to me anymore, they are
now replaced by a saw and a glass of water. I still see and hear
the ensemble from time to time when I exhibit it as an installation,
but it has been a long time without playing along with it.
recent session with the scissors player was like meeting an old
friend I had not talked to for ten years! Little by little I
got to remember its qualities and its uneasy sides: how steadily
it can play, on every tempo, with a smooth groove; and how difficult
it is for the human part of the band, when you once decided that
crrrrr would be the beat, to concentrate all along on the crrrrr
without being disturbed by the tic and the frrrhhh nearby, that
are constantly seducing you and putting you on the wrong track...
In order to feature the scissors as well as possible, the tempo
of the piece speeds up four times, then slows down four times,
for the human musician on prepared trumpet and Mangbetu harp
kundi to follow and adapt as quickly as possible. The vocal part
is also mechanical: a transformed record player samples a 7 inches
disc, in a more or less synchronised way. The piece is built
on eight segments of sixteen bars each, with an eight-bar final
Polly Fibre's scissors start it up and cut it down, as
if it were a parenthesis in the 'Relay' process.
Pierre Bastien / March 2009
Pierre Bastien is a French musician. He currently lives in Rotterdam.
He has built several automatic orchestras. He always performs his concerts
along with the last version of his many contraptions. The previous versions
have a second life -though not virtual- as sound sculptures and installations.
His collaborations include film maker Karel Doing, fashion design company
Issey Miyake inc., videast Pierrick Sorin, musicians Grimo, Lukas Simonis,
Pascal Comelade, Robert Wyatt, Steve Argüelles, choreographers Dominique Bagouet, Roberto Olivan, circus
company Trottola and juggler Jérôme Thomas. His music is released
on Gazul, G33G, Inpolysons, Signature, Rephlex, Western Vinyl.