Boomkat Product Review:
Amnesia Scanner find a kindred spirit with French-born NYC culture jammer Freeka Tet, who helps them reposition their confrontational and chaotic cross-genre experimentation in the post-NFT era.
For a while, Berlin-based Finnish duo Amnesia Scanner sounded not like they were channeling the future, as many thought, but making a salient comment about the present's deluge of information and distraction. Their fragmentary, hyper-appropriative approach has almost burned away completely on 'Strobe.RIP', an album that plays like a sonic lament to an era that expired sometime during the peak of the pandemic, as the attraction of pixel art and fascist apes peaked dramatically and subsequently disappeared into the cultural aether. Where might one go after spending years engineering a brand of cacophony that's generated its own sprawl of copyists? Well the answer here is towards passive, beat-driven trip-pop that sounds like a zany fusion of Four Tet and A.G. Cook. "Amnesia Scanner is now living in the world it has built," the duo state, somewhat conceitedly.
Martti Kalliala and Ville Haimala are joined by creative consultant and multi-disciplinary artist Freeka Tet, who helps them make sure that 'Strobe.RIP' isn't just a set of tracks, but a series of performances, installations, videos and physical products. If this sounds a little too much, it's at least a recognition of the kind of flaming hoops artists have to jump through to get noticed on a lucrative festival circuit that prioritizes spectacle over artistic content. As always, Amnesia Scanner are able to hold a mirror up to the wider scene with music that's, this time around at least, subtly bombastic. They rattle through dusty AutoTune-d reggaetón ('Giggle'), chirpy SoundCloud trip-hop ('Bounds') and cheeky, distorted pop punk ('Disperse'), sounding like an algorithm-powered streaming radio station on the fritz.
The fireworks of previous albums like 'Tearless' and 'Another Life' have been reduced to faint pops, suggesting the spectacle is less sonic now, it's more in the presentation itself. Lead single 'Ride' comes with a cheeky video from Freeka Tet that plays on our perception of the current reality, tapping into the pandemic-era overuse of cellphone-powered delivery services. Musically it's a longing hyperpop inversion, sounding familiar but not exactly enjoyable - more of a reminder of where we are than a well-lit path to something more hopeful. This nihilist streak lends 'Strobe.RIP' a particular mood that might be perfectly appropriate, we just don't know exactly where all this might lead, yet.