Album Review: Amnesia Scanner - Another Life
Across the EPs leading up to their debut album, Amnesia Scanner have shown that their shape-shifting, all-encompassing experimental bass music is something to be inhabited. It’s best experienced loud, allowing yourself to feel cocooned inside, opening yourself to let it to seep into your bones. This has been effective in short bursts, and on their debut album they take this to further extremes, asking you to completely inhabit their vision of Another Life.
The Berlin-based Finnish duo’s debut album could be said to be protest music, but the words that infest their tracks are sparse – it’s more just the sound that speaks to their fury. Pictures of Ville Haimala and Martti Kalliala are rarely associated with their releases, as it seems they prefer to stay as anonymous as possible, adding to the universality of their message - and it’s effective. Another Life comes across like a rallying cry to an underground resistance against the current state of affairs in Western society, and its uniquely blaring drill-and-bass meets air-raid-rave can reach such extremes that it would immediately turn off the majority of people – but those aren’t the ones that Amnesia Scanner are trying to turn to their revolution. Just looking at the track titles like ‘Unlinear’, ‘Faceless’, ‘Chaos’ and several others tells you plenty about their desire to upset the natural order of things, and anyone who can get down to the unusual grooves that inhabit their songs is a potential soldier in their army.
All that is to say that Another Life is an uncompromising and fierce missive from a dedicatedly underground group. Certain tracks have blockbuster hooks, but they’re always unsettling and agitated. ‘AS A.W.O.L.’ employs an alien-pitched vocal that shivers through the twinkling bells and slithering bass, singing of deceit and corruption and a desire to break out from the chains of society. ‘AS Chaos’ describes pandemonium all around in both the vocal and the juddering, unsettling panoply of sounds coming from all directions. The title track is an anthem for the underground, where they promise us that “there’s this life/ and there’s another life,” and the trembling bass that crackles through the song seems to promise that en masse we can break free to whatever the fantastical other life holds. ‘AS Too Wrong’ is the core of the album, where these underground rebels come together in the most immediately danceable track here, shimmying under shapeshifting synths hypnotic melodies, the voice in this one sounding relatively friendly, feeding on the combined enthusiasm for anarchy that is ripe throughout the record.
The tracks without a clear vocal line to guide the direction of the ferocity are a little more wayward, but still maintain the omnipresent dissatisfaction. Amnesia Scanner have developed their own palette to express these displeasures, and in a disquieting manner that is truly idiosyncratic and unmistakably theirs. Most effective is 'AS Faceless', which employs a searing synth that is strung with shrieks and wails that could equally be human or robotic - either way the effect is chilling.
Overall Another Life sounds like an illegal broadcast from an underground collective looking to inspire a revolution within those of a similar mindset. It may sound austere and unwelcoming, but if you’re on Amnesia Scanner’s wavelength then you’ll naturally tune into their determinedly experimental sound, and within it find a freedom and a groove that speaks to a different way of being.
This article was originally published on The 405 - 19th September 2018.