From Ear To Eternity

Express India Newspaper

A sound artiste creates a novel anthem for 25 EU countries

New Delhi, September 7: For the love of the unusual, sound artiste Robin Rimbaud has composed a dirge for a Paris morgue, a soothing sound and video composition for a health spa, and then he loves to eavesdrop. For special multi-media performances, the Londoner, who is known as Scanner for his penchant for sound gadgets, also intercepts phone calls to record conversation between people. Using a gadget called radio scanner, Rimbaud intercepts airwaves to compose his voice collage art.

Last year, on invitation of the British Council in Brussels, 40-year-old Rimbaud put together his biggest-ever sound project: a short, minute-long ingenious compilation of national anthems of 25 European Union countries. "I wanted to provide an alternative to the EU anthem," says the artiste who also enjoys photography and Indian classical music.

Rimbaud, who is in India to conduct a workshop for young musicians, says putting together the artistic anthem was not an easy task. "It took me three months to understand and construct the harmony as the pitches of each anthem were different. Also, I wanted it to sound serious so I had to work harder," says Rimbaud, who has developed five variations of the anthem, some of them "funky and groovy". His compilation comes along with a graphic visual.

Scanner is currently involved in making a BBC documentary on voice modulation. How have people responded to his sound art? "People have problems when traditions change, especially back home in the UK. Some people were upset while others raised the issue of the need of an anthem at all."

Of course, the acknowledgement from 10 Downing Street, acclaimed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus and several fan mails from China have come as a pleasant surprise to him. "Things take a long time with governments, but maybe ten years down the line something will happen for my anthem. Besides, doing music the usual way doesn't interest me. I prefer the unusual," says the artiste. Is the European Union President listening?