Battersea-based ambient composer Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, took his curious pseudonym from his compositional tool of choice: the cellphone scanner. He quickly earned a reputation as a boundary-pushing experimentalist, wedding scanned vocal samples with sparse electronics and other textural elements that underscored the strain and isolation associated with modern telecommunications technology. Though Rimbaud worked increasingly toward other, more musical compositional devices, his first several releases went heavy on the lifted convo, attracting commentary from postgrad pocket theorists as often as music critics.
Although he admitted to a having a certain voyeuristic fixation as far back as his childhood, Rimbaud began exploring it through music significantly later in life, when he acquired a police scanner from the Brixton Hunt and Saboteurs group (a sort of wargames/survivalist collective) at a surprising discount. He recorded a number of albums -- such as 1992's Scanner, 1993's Scanner 2, and 1994's Mass Observation, all released on Ash International, a label he co-founded -- and completed remixes for Oval, Scorn, and others.
Though not as varied or complex in his approach as some of his peers in the European electronic music avant-garde, Rimbaud's probing experimentalism and developing focus won him high praise among the more cerebral of the electronic music set, resulting in a number of commissioned performance and composition opportunities that brought him in contact with the likes of David Shea, Bill Laswell, Oval's Markus Popp, and Karlheinz Stockhausen (the last of whom Rimbaud counts among his admirers). By the end of the '90s, his scope had widened significantly. Released in 1999, Lauwarm Instrumentals, for instance, incorporated burbling electronics, somber drones, neo-orchestral ambience, and full-on drum'n'bass.
Throughout the next decade, Rimbaud was just as active, with collaborative work as frequent as proper solo productions. His prolific work with others is highlighted by 2002's The Crystalline Address (with Kim Cascone), 2006's Tinnito (with Rolf & Fonky), 2007's Twisted Artifacts (with Pete Lockett, as Parallax Beat Brothers), and 2010's Blink of an Eye (with the Post Modern Jazz Quartet). He also played guitar in Githead, a band led by Colin Newman and Malka Spigel. ~ Sean Cooper & Andy Kellman