Pat Metheny introcduced his upcoming Orchestrion Project on his website recently. He described it as a "leap into new territory" and something "particularly connected to the reality of this unique period in time." But reading the description, it sounds like something connected to the reality of another time. From what I gather, he's playing acoustic instruments mechanically using technology developed for his purposes. To be fair, he adds a postscript to the effect of you have to hear it to believe it, but to me, a mechanical band sounds like some relic of the industrial revolution. Like it should debut at the next world's fair. Even if it's updated technologically, it still seems decidedly low tech. It seems to me this "moment in time" is about digital, more than mechanical innovation. I'd like to have Pat elaborate on what he means when he says "this moment in time". I do respect Pat Metheny, musically as well as intellectually, so I'll wait and see.
Update: Someone in an All About Jazz discussion forum on the Orchestrion thing posted a link to this video. This has (I hope) nothing to do with what Pat's up to, but I had to reproduce the link because this video had me mesmerized. Between the megaphone, the giant Karaoke screen and the freaky-ass dancing all around, the giant drum machine/medieval torture device is keeping a pretty low profile.