Sleeping too close to an electrical outlet may cause one to dream about the music of Scanner, Robin Rimbaud's long-lived project of ambitious sonic messaging. His An Ascent (49'37") is a mood album, although what exact mood has yet to be determined. From out of some distant district its low-key intensity lingers in our bloodstream, forcing a reassessment of the familiar. Using established EM technology he reveals a music both strange and new. Producing an alternating variety of grainy, cloudy, synthesized and digital sounds Rimbaud has no trouble in manufacturing the vividly breathing and softly pulsing notes that inhabit this release. It is the excellent assembly of these elements into semi-abstract, fuzzy edged forms that so distinguishes him. Giving voice to silenced states of mind An Ascent combines an economy of form and smart surface calculations, and exerts such control over color so as to bare the fullness of a truly eccentric imagination. This collection of varied, curious pieces moves between tightly bound frozen gestures and a slow burning contained emptiness, to the coiled strength and mutable texture of fractured waveforms and dense clouds of sounds. Samples, fragments and loops produce a restless energy - wired from the raw voltage of the imagination. At times his synths show their teeth, as timbre proceeds inexorably from hush to maelstrom - yet, as daunting as this may read, not one of us will hesitate to step inside Rimbaud's story. From the placid lull of beating oscillators to a stark exposure and dissipation, these nine tracks each have an epic span that belies the few minutes of their duration. As landscapes and machines materialize in our minds this unvarnished minimalism slides into abstraction, then gently recedes into the firmament of night. The result is an album of Ambient Music - but only just. An individualist who finds his place in so many musical situations, Scanner is a creature of the vast aural plane in which he plays. His electronic agency allows him to address the human condition in a way that no other musician can. Probing the quiet recesses of where we dwell, An Ascent captures the spirit of our era. So long as ideas persist in his head, Rimbaud will keep exploring - and continue to give us much to listen to and think about.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 22 July 2020