thu 12/12/2019

CD: Scanner - Fibolae | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Scanner - Fibolae

CD: Scanner - Fibolae

Elegiac work from an electronic explorer who's been quiet for almost a decade

The Moon in gloom

Robin Rimbaud, AKA Scanner, has been releasing music for over two decades. There was a point in the mid-Nineties when he was a media “thing” due to the way he sampled sounds plucked from the airwaves. Shockingly, this included phone calls because cordless home phones are as accessible as any other radio signals. He has long operated on the art-intellectual spectrum, bridging electronic, industrial and avant-classical, collaborating with everyone from Wire to Michael Nyman.

So to Fibolae, titled for a word that came to him in a dream, and his first album in eight years. Giving background to this release on his website, Rimbaud says “I lost my entire family and left the comfort of a familiar city, London, to live in a former textile factory to re-invent my life.” The album opens, then, with “Inhale”, a melee of ansaphone messages from his late family, as well as John Balance of Coil and others, all passed. This leads into a furious drum barrage which, in turn, settles to a mournful synth’n’strings arrangement, rage giving way to grief. It sums up the atmosphere. Furious tracks such as the enjoyably ballistic, seven-minute closer “Savage Is Savage”, the album’s juiciest cut, rely on dense percussion to express passion, but always backed by carefully chosen melodic tones.

Much of the album, however, is about mood rather than attack, and that mood is gloomy, albeit tuneful and often ear-engaging. “Nothing Happens Because of a Single Thing”, for instance, has a drum & bass feel to it, but is more like a film soundtrack than a dance number, while “Spirit Cluster” skitters and glitches but is laden with sad strings, coming on like a goth Moby.

Scanner, at his best, is playful, mischievous and accessible, as well as thought-provoking. Fibolae is a personal album, perhaps not the best entry point to the work of this once-prolific artist (this writer would recommend 1997’s accessible, oddly poppy and spooked Delivery). It is, however, an emotional outpouring that’s darkly worthwhile for those disposed towards a suite of crunchy, electronic melancholy.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Spirit Cluster"

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