scanner : vex [vex]
shortlisted in the riba grand designs house of the year 2018 awards vex, an unusual organic building implanted into the forgotten landing of a london street would hardly inspire many artists to create a new musical experience, let alone one working in unison with the building’s concept and quite literally, its material body. scanner, or robin rimbaud as known in flesh and blood lifeform accepted this very invitation by architects chance de silva and in doing so engaged their starting point for the entire project, erik satie’s vexations. a house, from its foundations up grounded by a short piece of music interpreted to be played 840 times over, hence it might be assumed said building would be another high-finance skyscraper. but no, this is a three-ish storey detached in plain old suburbia, with a twist. a continual twist. bespoke in just about every way, an uncompromising disjointed conical, each floor coerced into an angular, yet singular fluted concrete motif. as a musician who has fully embraced sound installation work for many decades am sure scanner approached this challenge with industrial glee! his vex in digital form here is in three parts. vex flow appears as the most site specific of the london locales. existing to mirror the groundwork of the building, in main the pouring of concrete and its elemental journey in becoming the conical(s). cyclical patterns rise, fall and breathe. droning the arrivals, usage and departures of multiple tonnage of said liquid gold, skilfully guided to perform this elixir transformation into being. ironically (well i find it so), the vague, almost subliminal monosyllabic sound of the dripping concrete adds a textural form, like the random surface noise of a vinyl record to this compact disc’s sonic stability. as material and building evolve its chosen form, sound pressures incrementally increase volume until the circling finally ceases and platforms level out to an ambient echo of empty space. an area readying itself for habitation. devoid of the necessary elements and trappings which will soon spill into the void. this oddly structured, almost mechanical environment silent now prepared for the souls of clockwork humans and their language to be subsumed into the concrete. for now, anyway. the building itself will continue evolving by miniscule self-movements and softly sighing sounds outliving its series of inhabitants. until... whilst, vex flow is the drive to construct, vex drift bears relation to that limbo period after creation. shallow and static. notes from architects pages dancing through empty shells, racing the spirals intrigued by the picked timbres of inspiration received from satie through the newly encased ether. spectral electronic clicks dash, phasing around random key abstractions until the old gives way to the new and the second and final site-specific ends. elsewhere, in and at another altogether different space and time, vex in venice transplants a fragment of the new london form into an old stairwell, where an illusory presence of dark esoteric movements ensue. easily the most unsettling vex piece evoking spirits deadlocked at the imposition of this newly installed and completely out of place curvature. tonal drifts and manipulated keys expressing their undignified vexations. all senses left completely to the metaphysical. then, silence. normality after 50 minutes of tense observational experiences. work which draws me back to alex willner’s hands project. the soul is quick retains elements of environment and disembodiment which possibly align themselves to this grandiose study of a literal musique concrete. through robin rimbaud’s vast knowledge of electronic remodelling vex can be heard as memory and future, just as the building itself shall always remain in some kind of transition. be it physical through natural elements or internal by possession, these soundboards travel infinitely too. pure and unique studies expressed through the supply and demand of a listener. be inquisitive, but do not be vexed. sold!
available now on cd