This month I write to you from the seclusion of Rockfield Studios in Monmouth in Wales, the legendary studios doubling up as a farm where such acts as The Stone Roses, Rush and Simple Minds have recorded in the past. It’s also the location where Queen wrote and recorded parts of their little popular tune, Bohemian Rhapsody. Trying to channel some of this magical musical charm towards the new Githead album release, we have spent the last days working away creating a wild sounding record that so far bridges a world between dirty Delta blues, boosted noisy rock, weirdo folktronica and Krautrock. Where to next? Perhaps riding a horse?
So August began over in Seattle at Subtrata 1.2 Festival with both a live performance and a field trip to the countryside. Performing at the amiable Chapel Performance Space and pleasantly sandwiched between fellow explorers Lawrence English and Daniel Menche, it was an evening of physicality where the bass speakers vibrated to people to lying on the floor, quite literally feeling the bass and a dedicated audience listened intently in silence, as if in the noisiest library in the world.
Our field trip on the Sunday took us out into the wilds of the North Cacades with a host of recording tools, hydrophones, headphones, digital recorders and a healthy supply of sunblock. This was a delightfully more engaging experience than visiting a shooting range the previous day, such an alien and extremely disagreeable experience that I wish never to repeat for the rest of my life. Before I departed Seattle I visited the EMP Museum with the director of Substrata, Rafael Anton Irisarri, where we ended up playing in the educational studios built to teach children about the making of music and where we amusingly recorded on the cheap digital keyboards in a booth surrounded by noisy children, and with a little studio wizardry, this magical piece of music emerged, which you are welcome to download.
Back home only with only time to unpack and it was off to Weymouth in the UK for an extraordinary venue, ICCI 360 Arena, to present my audio-visual work in a massive surround sound and visuals venue. With projections mapped onto the entire surface, 360 degrees around the audience, it was a startling and impressive experience. One elderly man was so curious he chose to stand beside me for part of the performance and watch me twiddle and play with my buttons and switches on stage, a most strange adventure.
So September begins in Stockholm where I’ll be presenting a witty new installation as part of the More Than Sound exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall museum. With work by leading Swedish and international artists it will explore the nature of music and be a place where music is created.
I will be presenting Hiss concrete which draws attentionto a very specific non place- an elevator in a public building. It will use all the sounds of the elevator itself, doors, motor and ambience, combined with recordings I have made all over the globe of other elevators, bells, buzzers, gates, voice announcements for different floors, in a variety of languages from English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese and Chinese.
Hiss concrète offers a connection between ideas of Elevator Music, that kind of vapid, generic easy listening music that is frequently piped through shopping centres and airports, and Musique Concrète, an experimental technique of music composition that assembles work by using natural sounds found around us. It should also provide a smile for visitors.
With other artists to include Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Susan Hiller, Susan Philipsz, Tarek Atoui and Hans Berg, it looks set to be a fun adventure. Accompanying the exhibition will be a series of performances, one in particularly at Drottningholm Theatre celebrating the 100-year anniversary of John Cage on 05 September where I will be performing live.
The very day I land I’m off to Genesis Cinema in London’s East End to introduce Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 thriller The Conversation, about a paranoid surveillance expert who becomes troubled when he believes he has uncovered a murder plot. So on 06 September I can be found at my favourite local cinema settling down to enjoy this now cult classic film.
Given how my professional career began, picking up indiscriminate signals from the ether, wiretapping into private conversations of unsuspecting individuals on their mobile phones, The Conversation has remained a firm favourite of mine, especially given the themes that still resonant today. It seems prophetic how the film echoes recent tales from of The News of the World scandal and the absolute illusion of privacy. It's mesmeric, intriguing, unsettling and yet distressingly familiar. Add to this a sonic score that has always captivated me, where acclaimed sound designer Walter Murch created a unique electronic world wrapped around the narrative that offers an ambient noise that maintains a hovering tension throughout. The Conversation is slow burning gem that will leave you in a spell, so even if you don’t live in London then you should get to watch it on DVD or online.
Then the very next night, 07 September, I’m performing at Hackney Film Festival in London, for the opening Live Cinema night at the appealingly named The New Empowering Church. The Live Cinema Foundation is a new Hackney based organisation that supports the presentation, development and publication of emerging digital culture that exist at the intersection between film, music and the performing arts. For this special one off event it has joined forces with HFF to co-curate a night of audio-visual delights that celebrates local artists operating in this field, with live AV performances from internationally recognised artists such as The Light Surgeons, Scanone, Blanca Regina & Matthias Kispert. The night will culminate in a party atmosphere with DJ sets from local audio-smiths Spatial and Champetamine along side visuals by The Butchers, Paulskiart - Nano Projections, Joe Catchpole plus more. I’ll be performing a very dynamic and funky live show.
Work is still going on behind the scenes towards more performances of Live_Transmission, my collaboration with Heritage Orchestra, but before that is announced here is a demo for one of my first reworkings of Heart and Soul by Joy Division, before they were expanded by the orchestra into something very spectacular.
Later on 22 September my work will accompany a new Pas de Deux in a balletic work in the presence of the Dutch Queen Beatrix, for the official opening of Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam. It's a wonderfully romantic work inspired by the compositions of Morton Gould. Apparently Queen Beatrix attended in 1961 to watch a Pas de Deux on the stairs by Hans van Manen, so this is like stepping back in time but with a fresh view, choreographed this time by Ernst Meisner who I recently created the Canta Ballet with in Amsterdam in the summer. What with my recent Olympic adventures I wonder how far away my Knighthood is then? :-D
And to close a very bizarre little interview appeared online this month too, where I got to speak about Spiderman, Queen and John Cage on the same page. Eclectic indeed.
It seems likely that I’ll also be over in Boston this month so any locals please stay tuned.
Until next month.
Robin Van Rimbaud
::: listen :::
Swans: Seer (Young Gods)
Eraserheard: OST (Sacred Bones)
VariousL Recollection GRM (Mego)
Bernard Parmegiani: L'oil Ecoute (Mego)
::: read :::
Cynthia Carr: Fire in the Belly-David Wojnarowicz (Bloomsbury)
Ronald Magliozzi: Quay Brothers (MOMA)
Kenneth Silverman: Begin Again (Northwestern)
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller: Works (Hatje Cantz)
Apart, Aaron Rottinghaus, USA
Bernie, Richard Linklater, US
The Imposter, Bart Layton, UK
Ted, Seth MacFarlane, USA
More Than Sound
05 September – 02 December 2012
What is music? And what makes it something that is more than just sound? This autumn Bonniers Konsthall is focusing on how music is used and created in contemporary art. After taking on cultural forms such as literature, theater and film in recent exhibition Bonniers Konsthall now focuses on the encounter between art and music. What is music? And what makes it something that is more than sound? This autumn’s large group exhibition More Than Sound, featuring work by leading Swedish and international artists, will explore the nature of music and be a place where music is created.
Scanner will present a new installation Hiss Concréte. Other artists include Tarek Atoui, Tarek Atoui, Hans Berg med Nathalie Djurberg, Malin Bång, Ay?e Erkmen, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Susan Hiller, Matti Kallioinen, Haroon Mirza and Susan Philipsz.
Institute of Contemporary Arts
19 June 2012 - 16 September 2012
As part of a season on sound, this exhibition presents one hundred new sound commissions produced by artists from all over the world. Selected by curators and art institutions worldwide, all artists have been invited to submit a sound file, taking its stimulus from the themes evoked in Bruce Nauman's Days, which will be presented in the lower gallery during the exhibition.
Scanner will be presenting an exclusive major new work, Murmurs, Mutters, which will be heard in the show.
Time & Again
Collaboration with artist Michael Anastassiades
12 May - 25 November 2012
The timeless objects of the London-based designer oscillate between design product, sculpture, and quality craftsmanship. Under the MAK exhibition pro- gram, Anastassiades makes an artistic contribution to the museum’s new positioning of applied arts. Scanner has produced a series of discrete sound interventions in the building to compliment the installation.
By Sukhdev Sandhu
Design Mind Unit
Sound Design Scanner
Artangel Interaction invited writer and historian Sukhdev Sandhu to write a nocturnal journal unfolding over the course of 2006. His postings will appear sequentially at this microsite specially designed by Mind Unit. Sandhu's forays see him prospecting in the London night with the people who drive its pulse, from the avian police to security guards, zookeepers and exorcists. Acclaimed artist and musician Scanner has collaborated with Sukhdev and Ian Budden of Mind Unit to compose the sound for the site. If you would like to be kept informed as each episode is posted, join artangel's mailing list by clicking here .
Bittersweet Songs for the Sleepless City
NightJam is the latest project in Artangel Interaction’s Nights of London
series of artist-led collaborations with people who have a special view on
a hidden side of the nocturnal city. Scanner invited young people at New Horizon
Youth Centre in King’s Cross to collaborate on a creative project that
expresses how the city at night looks and sounds to their ears and eyes. Through
music and voice workshops they explored the sense of freedom and fear, celebration
and solitude of the concealing darkness. Meanwhile, they captured their nights
on disposable cameras, taking images that are at times eerie, startling, contemplative
and funny. NightJam presents two elusive visual and musical journeys through
the city’s ‘quiet’ hours.
NightJam presents two music tracks, a film, photographs, that can be experienced and freely downloaded. Additionally it features remixes of NightJam by Stephen Vitiello, Hakan Lidbo, Troy Banarzi, Si-cut.db and Pete Lockett.