Pierre Bastien develops since several years his very personnal music
based on the building of musical machines made of Mecano. His orchestra
"Mecanium" plays for him on the records and on stage. A machinery music,
delicate and full of tenderness, with emotions which rapidly touched Pascal
Comelade. Pierre Bastien not only builds machines, but also a real musical
route between artistic installations and music, a sounding and visual
univers with great modesty and sincerity. After some interesting collaborations
with the DJ music of Aphew Twin, Pierre Bastien comes back with this new
"oulipien" project, accompanied by Lukas Simonis (AA-Kismet, Dull Schiksall)
who affords a "rock & schnops" touch. A new novelty, which is rare
A short history of the story
At the ARTEC opening I have a long talk with British art critic Nicholas
Wadley, about some literary games: palindromes, tautograms, lipograms,
homophonism, S+7 method etc...
Nicholas sends a photocopy of a short poem in French. A strange French indeed: "Un petit d'un petit / S'étonne aux Halles / Un petit d'un petit / Ah! Degrés te fallent [...]". After a few days thinking about it, I open Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and read: "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall [...]". This is it! The curious French poem was just a phonetic transcription of some English nursery rhymes!
While participating in the Symposium of Shadows every night for one week, I spend my daytime in the bookshops until I discover, in The Faber Book of Nonsense Verse, the same poem again with a few others and the author's name: Luis d'Antin Van Rooten (1906-1973).
While representing Holland at the Flea Festival (Dortmund/Ghent/New-York/Eindhoven) I spend again most of my time in the bookshops, until I find the book Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames by Luis d'Antin Van Rooten (Penguin Books, 1980; first published by Grossman Publishers, 1967). When asked, the bookseller says that he did not know he still had a copy of it. He thought the book had been out of print for many years already.
Immediately I start researching the original English poems corresponding to their weird French transcriptions.
5-The Hague, 1997
The Dutch magazine Bzzlletin is preparing an issue about the French writers Raymond Roussel, Raymond Queneau and Georges Pérec, related to the Oulipo event organized by CBK Rotterdam at Boymans Museum. Asked to collaborate, I write an article about Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames. The title is Tweetaligheid: toi et ta lyre aident (Bzzlletin N°243, Feb.1997).
Denis Tagu is the director of a very peculiar audio label called InPolySons. His catalogue includes new music based on specific themes such as art brut, Lewis Carroll's books, Robert Wyatt's compositions, Alfred Jarry's Ubu etc... He proposes me to release a new album on a subject I would choose, after my previous InPolySons cd based on Queneau's Exercices de Style [Eggs Air Sister Steel, IPS1094].
At the flee market I buy the original Volland Edition of Mother Goose. Back home I open it and find the following handwritten inscription: "Dear Pierre, Look Count them, Fix them right here on these pages, Enjoy Mother Goose[...]". Then, written by the same enigmatic person, a list entitled "Mots d'Heures Gousses Rames" with the forty transcriptions and their original English titles. Only two poems are missing on the list (eight were missing on my own list).
A net of amateurs is now trying to come through the last secrets of the book. When we finally succeed, Denis Tagu, Lukas Simonis and me decide to start working on an album based on the French poems.
Lukas Simonis records very different people from different nationalities, who recite the poems. They are Australian, Spanish, Swiss, Austrian, British, Scottish, Finnish... Then we spend a few months composing and recording the music together, until the Master is ready and the producer enthusiastic. Then we decide to have a live version of the result. The work is still in progress!