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Robin Rimbaud: Staging Silence (2LP, Sub Rosa, April 2021)

Hans Op de Beeck‘s Staging Silence is a film art series in which a camera points at a table as hands come in from either side to construct and transform dioramas of various tranquil scenes, such as a wooden jetty on a moonlit lake, often out of recognizable everyday objects. Elegantly lit, and presented in a luminous black-and-white, they appear to be a challenge to the viewer: I find the visuals atmospheric and beautiful despite being very aware that, say, those rocks are really potatoes, because I saw them being peeled and carved and placed there. (I found myself musing at one point about Betty’s audition scene in Mulholland Drive. Again.) The works turn darker at points — a cityscape made of sugarcubes is melted by a rain of what looks like hot black ink poured from watering cans — but then a change of lighting reveals the beauty in the new landscape. It’s striking and clever stuff.

The second and third entries are soundtracked by Robin Rimbaud, aka the sound artist Scanner, and that’s what’s on this luxurious double LP. The sounds are varied, bringing in what sounds like synthesized ambient music, samples, a kind of Fennesz-like washed-out guitar at one point, and many other things, but the dominant genre is neo-classical, in both its swooshingly epic and intimately minimal forms. And it’s hard not to ask questions about the artifice of music designed to elicit an emotional response, and its use (and misuse) in movies. (It’s okay, I’m not going to mention Club Silencio… except I just did, oops…) This effect is enhanced, if anything, by listening to it on record, the cues fading in and out shorn of their visuals and context and yet each powerfully conjuring its own mood in turn.

Because here’s the thing: If you ignore all the above and just listen to the damn tunes, they really are very good, with beauty and atmosphere and charm aplenty. I have to admit that I had no idea that Rimbaud was such a good composer. Which, by my reckoning, gives us two ways to enjoy these works, and they’re a great success on both fronts, which I call a win–win.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic.

One reply on “Robin Rimbaud: Staging Silence (2LP, Sub Rosa, April 2021)”

Thanks for those kind words. It’s funny as I’ve written so much music for contemporary dance and film over the years too, so it’s reassuring to find someone recognise that I can actually put a few notes together in a decent order. I really appreciate your support!

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