Volume 94, Issue 93

Friday, March 16, 2001


Hand sex and videotape - Digipop explores techno art

Scanner wants you to open your mind

2 St. Thomas and back

Wes Borland goes to Oz

Scanner wants you to open your mind

By Aaron St. John
Gazette Staff

"I just want to expand people's horizons, to challenge them."

That, in a nutshell, is the mission of British artist Robin Rimbaud. For the last eight years, Rimbaud has been attempting to do just that under the guise of Scanner, a name chosen for his habit of listening to and sampling cell phone conversations on his trusty device of the same name.

Over the course of 14 albums and countless single releases, Rimbaud has developed a reputation as a fearless innovator, crafting experimental electronic soundscapes that are, to say the least, unique.

For his latest project, released under the name Scannerfunk, Rimbaud has taken a slightly different approach. "I wanted to do an album that captures the energy of rhythm and the spirit of dancing," he explains. "It's meant to be the one upbeat, optimistic record in my catalogue."

Continuing to discuss the album, titled Wave Of Light By Wave Of Light, Rimbaud says his attempt at being more accessible hasn't been received by everyone that way. "There was one review in an English magazine that called it 'unlistenable,'" he says with a laugh. "I don't think that's true at all. I think it's really easy to listen to actually."

He's right. Wave Of Light may still be far from the world of pop, but the album sees Rimbaud working in a much more linear fashion than normal. It's not your typical dancefloor fodder by any means, but it's a far cry from his more obtuse and cacophonous earlier work. Several of the tracks are quite brilliant, combining irresistible grooves with fascinating sounds and samples.

In addition to scoring several films over the last few years, (including a recent BBC adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream) the ever restless Rimbaud has begun to take on more ambitious endeavours.

"I've been called a performance artist from the beginning, so I decided to actually go that route," Rimbaud admits. His works so far have included time-based media installations at galleries in London, England and Paris, and he is currently working on a project to radically redesign the entrances to the subway system in Washington, D.C..

Of these efforts, which include original compositions to accompany the visual effect, Rimbaud says, "It's different from playing live. Instead of aying for a few hours, where everyone claps at the end and goes home, you set up a piece and leave it running for three months. It changes the way people experience the work, and it allows you to constantly access new people, to expand the audience."

Although many in the electronic music scene have expressed disgust and dismay at the increasing commercialization of the form, Rimbaud sees it as a positive thing. "It's inevitable and it's healthy," he opines. "It's nice to see more people getting into it, getting exposed to new music. If it opens them up to new experiences, then I'm all for it," he adds.

"There are so many characters doing interesting things right now. I think it's a wonderful thing that more and more people are getting to hear it."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000