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Magic in Minimalism: Pierre Bastien and Alexey Aygi

02 June 2014

The musical mechanisms of Frenchman Pierre Bastien were accompanied by the violin of Russian virtuoso Alexey Aygi — this truly rare concert was held in Erarta during the Festival of Synthesis of Art (▲ CROSS ART).

Renowned Pierre Bastien can be said to be the founder of musical robots. In the exhibition hall of Erarta, you could see his mechanical and paper orchestras. However, the live concert is absolutely unique. The mechanism Pierre uses is especially so. On the table a certain structure turns, inside of which are intricate details of wheels and blades. Pierre constantly changes one thing to another, adding or taking something away from this musical wheel. Such is how the unusual minimalistic sounds are born.

Pier also creates sounds by using a plank and nails, a rubber hose, put into water and a great number of various objects. Only a true artist or someone with a good imagination would be able to discern the music in these sounds.

This is how St Petersburg composer and film artist Dmitriy Mazyrov describes his own impression from the concert: "The music of Bastien is atmospheric and improvisatory. He is able to start one motor and begin another with something different, or even walk away from the table with the instruments, but you sit and look at these revolving mechanisms, as if you were enchanted. It is certainly magical...".

The violin of Alexey Aygi adds a certain atmosphere with its thoughtful and sharp notes. Alexey and Pierre for a long time collaborate and settle on one wave, combining high mastery of performance and creative musical experiments. Pier explains that they no longer have to rehearse. Although he has worked over these mechanisms for a long time, Alexey simply trusts in his own instrument in his hands and executes everything with virtuosity.

The concert at Erarta was called "Playing with Dead". Live music resounded against the background of flashing black and white cards. These are the recordings of the musicians who have already passed away — a charismatic Black singing jazz, residents of Jamaica with an innate feeling of rhythm, and artists performing in Parisian cabaret.

In the concert, spectators were found submerged in this peculiar world, in which the sounds of the past rush into the present, mechanical voices become alive, strange constructions revolve, like magical umbrellas, bringing musical dreams.

▲ CROSS ART Festival
text by Olga Safroshina