Robin Rimbaud spent his life listening to others. In his early works, Rimbaud tuned into the airwaves to pluck out pieces of radio, mobile phone conversations and police broadcasts. These were intricately edited and folded back into his compositions, producing an experimental genre of his own, often gathering international admiration from the likes of Aphex Twin and even Stockhausen. This is yet another one of Rimbaud’s albums as Scanner, adding to his e-n-d-l-e-s-s discography (seriously huge), spawning collaborations with DJ Spooky, Alva Noto, Kim Cascone, and Vitiello among many others. And Rockets, Unto The Edges Of Edges does not disappoint.
The album starts off with vocal samples, strums of guitar and Rimbaud’s own gentle singing. That is until the kick drops and bounces away. The distorted bits and pieces of voices continue to dominate the background of Scanner’s recordings. We are, after all, eavesdropping. This mixture of acoustic instrumentation and electronic treatments evolves, introducing a full on string ensemble conducted in the rhythm of solid beat and bitcrushed percussion. And by the time I arrive at track three, titled Anna Livia Plurabelle, which is full of classical operetta vocals by the acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario, crying in angst, I realize the grandiose accomplishment of Scanner’s work, painting a cinematic masterpiece from lost and found fragments.
The rest is just as beautiful. Speckles of found voices, radar transmissions, and environmental recordings are hardly intrusive in this purely musical piece. “The ghostly presence of William Burroughs and philosopher Bertrand Russell weave their way through some of the pieces, opening into the dark heart of “Yellow Plains Under White Hot Blue Sky”, an epic, almost menacing work, with corrosive voices, noises and abstract shapes over a primordial electronic beat, that continues to build and ignite with bowed strings into a picturesque precise explosion.”
Although I can’t say that I’ve heard every album by Rimbaud, I can definitely agree with the critics that this is his most mature and personal album to date. A soundtrack to a voyeur’s life finally turned inwards. This is organic, this is digital, this is modern classical at its best. Completely unexpected and highly recommended for fans of Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Pick up your copy from the Essen (Germany) based BineMusic, while I scratch this winner onto my upcoming Best of 09. Need I say more?
See more of Rimbaud’s current and upcoming work in my Two and a Half Questions with Scanner.