Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Scanner and the Post Modern Jazz Quartet “The Decisive Moment” (Influenza)

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Scanner Post Modern Jazz Quartet

Scanner is the alias of one Robin Rimbaud, a veteran electronic musician whose works, it seems, are not to be easily defined. “[He] traverses the experimental terrain between sound, space, image and form, creating absorbing, multi-layered sound pieces that twist technology in unconventional ways,” explains the biography on his website. How, then, does such an artist exert himself within a traditional medium as jazz, combining his focused experimentalism with a genre that has evolved through some of music’s most important improvisers? Such is the quandry when approaching Blink of an Eye, the new album fom Scanner and the Post Modern Quartet, a collaborative effort by Rimbaud and celebrated jazz musicians Matthew Shipp, Khan Jamal, Michael Bisio and Michael Thompson. The Jazz Times‘ Jeff Tamarkin points a finger to harmony in describing the “jazztronica” album, “Blink of an Eye is a work of stunning sonic breadth, one in which the electronics augment, ornament and permeate the original acoustic work but never overwhelm the sounds laid down by Shipp and company.” In this installment in the Influenza series, Rimbaud and pianist Shipp explain their parts in the track “The Decisive Moment,” a looming piano-driven piece that utilizes the full band as it builds toward a focused conclusion.

Robin Rimbaud: [I] was drawn by the hypnotic nature of the playing on this track, the almost mesmeric piano riff and drums that wrap themselves around the motion. It’s in a constant state of falling forwards so I added a series of treatments to each instrument, filtering them and opening them. In the middle I created this glitchy break, where I added an additional synthetic bass line, keyboard pads, backwards slices of sound and dubbed out the beats with echoes and reverbs. I intentionally avoided all quantization on this track and indeed the rest of the album, as I wanted to maintain this sense of the real and the played, to bury my world inside the acoustic so at points you struggle to determine what is played and what is imagined almost. The track closes with the sound of resonant burning ash from the fire before it.

Matthew Shipp: I originally used this riff on a chamber jazz duo CD with violinist Mat Maneri. It was intended to be a short piece that built a hypnotic groove effect not unlike some vamps that occur in the music of Charles Mingus. When we went in the studio for the Post Modern Quartet I used this riff hoping that [Michael] Bisio on bass and [Michael] Thompson on drums would wrap around it and create some forward motion and some tension, and they did. It is ironic that we could end up with a funk piece where the material originally came from a chamber album. Enter Scanner into the equation who created a b-section that was needed to make piece into a whole. Thanks Scanner!

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]