AMN Reviews: Robin Rimbaud & Scanner

Robin Rimbaud
Robin Rimbaud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robin Rimbaud, the artist most often known as Scanner, always has so much new going on (for instance, a reconsideration of John Tavener, done with the blessing of the late composer, and the score for ballet based on the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) that it behooves us to seize the opportunity to reconsider his past work when it presents itself in a new light.

The recent re-release of 1997´s The Garden is Full of Metal (Sub Rosa), a tribute to the late British filmmaker Derek Jarman, gone too soon some twenty years now, interweaves Jarman’s voice and location recordings around his home with a Bayeuxian tapestry of musics. Gracefully executed and already an acknowledged high-water mark in Rimbaud´s discograpahy, Jarman´s voice is doubled and trebled and tucked back into itself and hidden just out of sight. Out of print for some years, this version comes with expanded artwork, four unreleased tracks and has been remastered by Lawrence English of Room40. The original pieces themselves are among Rimbaud´s most introspective, which is not to be taken as meaning they lack humour or sharp edges capable of causing injury, and the add-ons make this re-issue a boffo “director´s cut”.

Electronic Garden (Bine Music) is a live CD featuring an addendum of its own, another live album recorded in 2010, now free-ranging on Bandcamp after previously only being available as a download when purchasing the former. It´s a great big sprawling mural on a downtown brick wall. Electronic Garden was recorded outdoors in a small open-air garden amphitheatre in Dresden in 2007. The set is comprised of variations on old work and a healthy portion of unreleased material. It is a movie of the mind with a strong narrative and captivating themes.

I highly recommend subscribing to Rimbaud´s newsletter Strom. With so much going on, it´s the best way to keep abreast of one of our most interesting and ever-evolving contemporaries, and it´s always an entertaining read speckled with valuable tips.

Stephen Fruitman

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