In Tsukamoto’s epic 1989 cyberpunk film Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the director explores the notion of transhumanism in a grotesque manner. The protagonists of the film, the one willingly and the other kicking and screaming, find themselves between states, stuck in a place between human and machine. In a similar intermediary state Amnesia Scanner, the Berlin-based Finnish duo, explore their most feverish dreams. Enamored by the influence that technology has on today’s society Amnesia Scanner have been living between two realms, one defined by a mainstream music ethic and the other plunged into an obscure experimental electronic motif.
In this in-between state, these fiends have produced a series of revelatory works. Their early releases, AS Live and Angels Rig Hook, raged in the mechanistic and industrial-esque mutations, displaying the power of dancefloor music through an infernal lens. On the other hand, their later work, highlighted by the EPs released through Young Turks, AS and AS Truth, saw them dive into a darker and more esoteric corner of their rave days influences. Chaotic structures met with bombastic tempos, creating an unexpectedly mystical experience. Drawing from their past but also looking into the future the band now unleashes their debut record Another Life.
The striking point of this record is this bizarre balance between an experimental mindset and a mainstream rendition. Amnesia Scanner produce music that displays a great deal of familiarity with orthodox techno music. Powerful repetitions, hooky tones, and a dance-like progression are all present. But, at the same time the noise, harsh synths and inhuman vocals collide with these straightforward notions. And beneath all this there is an almost palpable grin that Amnesia Scanner display as they revel in this oxymoron. The strange rhythms of “AS Too Wrong” displays this mischievous demeanor, with the duo diving deeper into unconventional waters with the ecstatic “AS Unilinear” or the unstable in its progression “Chaos”, both featuring the great Pan Daijing. The knack that the duo has for choosing unconventional sounds and extreme processing is in full display here and produces brain melting moments, as is the case with the beginning of “AS Symmetriba” with the vocals disrupting the alien quality of this otherworldly scenery.
The energy and ecstasy that Another Life produces in its opening moments might be overwhelming, but the duo overcomes some of their more primal and chaotic intentions and produce moments that display great emotional depth. “AS AWOL” is such an instance, with Amnesia Scanner verging towards a dark, dystopian pop theme, going for something more mainstream without losing their edge. The technique is also deployed with the more dance-pop motif of the title track, seeing the duo explore a different sonic space. And yet, this is simply a part of the multifaceted entity that is Amnesia Scanner.
“AS Daemon” unveils the minimal touch of the duo, with the sparse rhythmic patterns and the solitary vocals creating a solid ambiance, while the piercing synths disrupt the peaceful soundscapes. The erratic avant-electropop quality begins to fade and in its place an ambient beast rises. The subtle ideas that Amnesia Scanner implement start to grow roots, and that is noticeably from the ending of the very opening track. The duo then switch to dark ambient leanings, producing a horrifying ambiance with the use of its mechanical vocal performer Oracle in “AS Spectacular”. Infernal, futuristic bagpipes sound in the distant soundscapes as the producers begin their decent to darker territories. The despairing “AS Chain” is easily the most ambient moment of the record, with a hypnotic essence that washes over the surprisingly maximalist “AS Securitaz”. Yet, despite the hellish take on the ambient sound, Amnesia Scanner still lay this record to rest with a more peaceful and almost sweet manner in the wondrous “AS Rewind”, subtly inviting you to restart the surreal journey once more.
Another Life is the debut record that was expected from Amnesia Scanner, with the duo exploring its hybrid electronic music concept. Much like Tetsuo, the duo is an entity that undergoes an unreal mutation. While bound to the very foundations of electronic music, be it EBM motifs or techno beats, the duo displays their transformation. Through injections of noise, polyrhythmic tendencies and ambient passages, Amnesia Scanner produce a disfigured facade of their roots. It is this ongoing mutation that is so enticing that makes this act so compelling.