One Sound Design Trick with Scanner

July 10, 2024
by GForce Software

Scanner (British artist Robin Rimbaud) traverses the experimental terrain between sound and space connecting a bewilderingly diverse array of genres. Since 1991 he has been intensely active in sonic art, producing concerts, installations and recordings, the albums Mass Observation (1994), Delivery (1997), and An Ascent (2020) hailed by critics as innovative and inspirational works of contemporary electronic music.

Scanner began composing for professional productions in 1982. Since then he has performed and created works in many of the world’s most prestigious spaces including SFMOMA USA, Hayward Gallery London, Pompidou Centre Paris, Tate Modern London, Kunsthalle Vienna, Bolshoi Theatre Moscow, Hanoi Opera House Vietnam and the Royal Opera House London.

To date he has scored 75 contemporary dance productions, including works for the London Royal Ballet and Merce Cunningham. In 2016 he installed his Water Drops sound work in Rijeka Airport in Croatia, Ghosts at Cliveden National Trust UK, and scored the world’s first ever Virtual Reality ballet, Nightfall.

Robin, who contributed to VSM IV‘s sound design, kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Do you have any tips for getting great-sounding patches with VSM IV?

For the uninitiated, it’s fun to take preset and manipulate the parameters there, to offer you a gentle entry point, but I found the interface that is so immediate and playful, that it’s very easy to start from scratch and develop something very quickly. I was surprised at just how much further it was to take ’string’ sounds too, into very imaginative territory.

Which of your VSM IV patches do you consider your personal favourite?

Well, of course, I should say they are all inspiring and amazing. But a couple of my personal favourites are Footsteps in a Puddle, which is perfect for melancholic moments, capturing the sadness of a scene, and also

Low Berlin, which is an unsubtle tribute to the Bowie Eno “Low” album collaboration recorded in Berlin, with the keyboard split into two.

Footsteps in a Puddle

Is there anything, in particular, you liked about VSM IV?

It’s an extremely capable machine that I found myself fairly immediately creating new music with. For me, that’s always a good demonstration of how inspiring a piece of software can be, if I find myself writing new music that almost reveals itself like magic from the software itself.

I’m rather spoilt with options in my studio, with a variety of both software and hardware. There are some synths I always return to which resonate with the kind of sonic world that interest me, such as the Kilpatrick Phenol synth, which I used to make an entire album with and only that, and no other instruments:

I also love rather strange and surprising synths like the Ciat-Lonbarde Plumbutter 2, the Make Noise Strega and Meng Qi Wing Pinger. For software, I must confess that I’ve been rather abusing the GForce Oberheim instruments recently, as they are all truly inspiring. In the absence of any real Oberheim hardware in my studio, it’s the closest I can get to that magical sound!

Ask me the same question tomorrow and I’ll probably give you a different answer!

Where can readers find out more about you?