PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Photo: Courtesy of PAN via Bandcamp

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Tearless
Amnesia Scanner

PAN

19 June 2020

Amnesia Scanner is the Berlin-based Finnish duo of Ville Haimala, Martti Kalliala, and Oracle, the synthetic voice who is described as "the third, machinic ghost-member". After a series of mysterious releases since 2014, the group broke out as one of the most compelling new artists of 2018 with their debut full-length Another Life, a wiry deconstruction of electronic music, memetics, and criticisms of consumerism. Thereafter, they joined the founder of PAN Bill Kouligas and the conceptual artist Harm van den Dorpel for their 2019 full-length Lexachast, an audiovisual experimentation of algorithmic sounds and images from DeviantArt and Flickr.

So immersed in the center of experimental electronic music and audiovisual art, it was exciting to think about where Amnesia Scanner would refocus their conceptual lens onto after the turn of the decade. Intriguingly, their latest 2020 full-length Tearless hones their typically obscure modes into their most precise concept yet. That is, the 10-track album aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene. It offers limited, ambiguous answers through words, as expected, but it powerfully speaks about our divisive world through artistic and aural choices. Its globally connected featured artists bring together the voices of climatic hotspots, from Europe, South America, to the United States. And, its experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore mimics the popular chaos that bombards the dominant consciousness. Tearless is, as Amnesia Scanner told, "a breakup album with the planet".

Tearless begins as a cli-fi novel might end, on the precipice of climatic defeat. The opener "AS Enter" emerges as a vast soundscape that shares a daunting perspective about the Anthropocene. Amid damning, reverberating synths, Oracle's distant, reverb-ladened voice deems, "When it ends, it ends / When there is no plan / Turn the page, my friend." That is a disillusioned but understandable starting point for the album. Amnesia Scanner first conceptualized this project as the realities of climate change grew incessantly nearer to them. It was a period in which they witnessed "their icy home country of Finland thaw," and massive climate strikes take place in their current home base Berlin.

These conditions led Amnesia Scanner to feel that "there's a looming sense of radical change". Of course, no amount of intuition could have led anyone to imagine the many radical changes that actually emerged around the initially proposed release date of Tearless, 5 June—Amnesia Scanner decided to postpone the release of Tearless to 19 June as all proceeds from Bandcamp were donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Now, the world is mobilizing against the systemic killing of black people, against the elite oppressors, hired guns, and agitators. And, scientists, politicians, and industries continue to clash about how to navigate COVID-19, exacerbated by conspiracies and xenophobic sentiments. So, in such divisive times, overloaded by battling signal, it seems that Amnesia Sanner was fortuitous and justified to declare that "there is no plan".

However, Tearless immediately rises from the somber opener to the declarative title track that features the Peruvian artist Lalita. Over synthetic guitar riffs and anthemic drums, Lalita powerfully commands vocal chants. She cries, "Este aire me va a calmar / Esta tierra te va a curar / Pero ya no lo siento cierto", lamenting the loss of spiritual connection to the air and land. Such lamentations may allude to Peru's melting glaciers or the increasing climatic struggles for generational Andean alpaca herders. But, Lalita's impassioned delivery ensures that Tearless does not simply mourn such tragedies but also cathartically denounces them.

Thereafter, from South America to the northern States, the following track "AS Flat" features the metalcore band Code Orange. Tearless continues to foreground the voices of climatic hotspots with distorted throat shrieks that emerge from mechanical beats and menacing, metallic guitar riffs. This industrial pit is cold, malaised, distressed. It makes palpable the industries that systemically converge in poor and minority communities, creating systems of environmental racism in places like Code Orange's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It makes evident the rightful anger that must be expressed and heard from these communities.

Then, back to South America, the album's definitive banger "AS Going" features the Brazillian DJ/producer LYZZA. This reggaeton-inspired cut begins with the mantra, "He ya, keep it going." It repeats in ranging modulated notes until LYZZA enters with the massive hook. A barrage of percussion rolls adds even more pressure to this bursting piece. It lets off a fury of emotions in the face of a threat. Perhaps, this threat may be understood as the system of ecocidal capitalism that ignited widespread forest fires across LYZZA's home country Brazil, or maybe, it can be the system of racial capitalism that disregards the health of indigenous people during the pandemic. Either way, Tearless seems to build toward a unifying cry against these interconnected systems, these threats against the global wellbeing.

To recall, Amnesia Scanner referred to Tearless as "a breakup album with the planet", but it does not convey any type of surrender, even if the opener may have made it seem so. More precisely, the album is a breakup with the planet under the dominant rule. Along with the globally connected voices of Lalita, LYZZA, and Code Orange, Amnesia Scanner builds anthems of anger that transform into inspiration for resistance. Just remember, as Oracle assures on the closer "AS U Will Be Fine", "If we can help you lose your mind / You will be fine, You will be fine." Then, perhaps, we must lose our dominant mind to reimagine the failing Anthropocene.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.