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Rockets, Unto the Edges of Edges


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Album Review

Though Rockets, Unto the Edges of Edges has all the digital collage experimentalism of Robin Rimbaud's earlier works and features plenty of TV and radio samples, it's easily Rimbaud's most accessible, emotional work so far. Rimbaud seems less concerned here with warped electronics and more interested in urgent atmosphere, both organic and immediate. Opener "Sans Soleil" features what might be Rimbaud's first attempt at vocals. His pensive hum sits delicately over the gentle strumming of Michael Gira's acoustic guitar while digital ambience skips underneath. The track is certainly minimalist, but what comes later in the album could hardly be called the same, as epic, tribal rhythms flare amid clanging ominous beats in the film score-like and Bernard Herrmann-esque "Through Your Window." "The Last European" is similarly massive in form and function, with brutally stretched beats mingling with keyboard notes extended into bass sounds, making for a "Tubular Bells" caliber, mad mind blast. Patricia Rozario's fragile soprano gives an airy, bird-like prettiness to "Anna Livia Plurabelle," her voice wafting gracefully over strings (featured prominently throughout) and piano tinkerings. There's also accessibility in "Yellow Plains Under White Hot Blue Sky," which bares some resemblance to Massive Attack's "Inertia Creeps" and "Pietas Illulia" could be mistaken for a Pet Shop Boys experiment. Rimbaud has obviously embraced melody and emotions beyond his usual mainstays of fear and menace. Rockets, Unto the Edges of Edges is a mature, masterfully crafted musical manipulation that's alternately quite touching and relentlessly forceful.

Customer Reviews

Headphone Commute Review

Robin Rimbaud spent his life listening to others. In his early works, Rimbaud tuned into the airwaves to pluck out pieces of radio, mobile phone conversations and police broadcasts. These were intricately edited and folded back into his compositions, producing an experimental genre of his own, often gathering international admiration from the likes of Aphex Twin and even Stockhausen. This is yet another one of Rimbaud's albums as Scanner, adding to his e-n-d-l-e-s-s discography (seriously huge), spawning collaborations with DJ Spooky, Alva Noto, Kim Cascone, and Vitiello among many others. And Rockets, Unto The Edges Of Edges does not disappoint. The album starts off with vocal samples, strums of guitar and Rimbaud's own gentle singing. That is until the kick drops and bounces away. The distorted bits and pieces of voices continue to dominate the background of Scanner's recordings. We are, after all, eavesdropping. This mixture of acoustic instrumentation and electronic treatments evolves, introducing a full on string ensemble conducted in the rhythm of solid beat and bitcrushed percussion. And by the time I arrive at track three, titled Anna Livia Plurabelle, which is full of classical operetta vocals by the acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario, crying in angst, I realize the grandiose accomplishment of Scanner's work, painting a cinematic masterpiece from lost and found fragments. The rest is just as beautiful. Speckles of found voices, radar transmissions, and environmental recordings are hardly intrusive in this purely musical piece. "The ghostly presence of William Burroughs and philosopher Bertrand Russell weave their way through some of the pieces, opening into the dark heart of "Yellow Plains Under White Hot Blue Sky", an epic, almost menacing work, with corrosive voices, noises and abstract shapes over a primordial electronic beat, that continues to build and ignite with bowed strings into a picturesque precise explosion." Although I can't say that I've heard every album by Rimbaud, I can definitely agree with the critics that this is his most mature and personal album to date. A soundtrack to a voyeur's life finally turned inwards. This is organic, this is digital, this is modern classical at its best. Completely unexpected and highly recommended for fans of Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Pick up your copy from the Essen (Germany) based BineMusic, while I scratch this winner onto my upcoming Best of 09. Need I say more? See more of Rimbaud's current and upcoming work in my Two and a Half Questions with Scanner.


Born: May 6, 1964 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Rockets, Unto the Edges of Edges, Scanner
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