SCANNER: The Homeland of Electricity (2022)
“Each track is a destination where our ears dock into a complex enchanting universe”
1 You and Me 5:59
2 Air in the Air 5:11
3 Another Aircraft 5:31
4 Grain, Letting Go 5:04
5 Beginning of an Unknown Century 5:35
6 Artemovsk 5:33
7 At last it moves into Silence 3:49
8 Heaven Research Unlimited 4:10
9 Acentria 4:56
10 Traces upon Traces 4:19
(CD/DDL 49:44) (V.F.)
In an album where the shadows and the synth waves are varnished with scarlet and amber colors and where the rhythms have forms as eccentric as they are exciting, Scanner pulls the chestnuts out of the fire admirably by proposing nothing less than the unusual, even more enhanced than in his excellent An Ascent, released just two years ago. THE HOMELAND OF ELECTRICITY invites us to a feast in sounds where the term Psybient becomes obsolete. As Robin Rimbaud quotes "this album feels like a sound polaroid of this exact moment in time, capturing our times in atmospheric sound works, where light will be found again, even in the midst of struggle". It's within these parameters that the English musician-synthesist took all the time he needed to weave a superb 50 minutes of electronic music (EM) that transcends the usual tags of the English label DiN.
You and Me sets the tone for this album with a pulsating rhythmic structure. The flow of the sequenced bass pulses follows an undulatory path that takes the shape of a structure of minimalist loops which rises and falls and has pierces the usual introductory synth pad. A permanent dark shadow covers this level-headed agitation, detaching sonic filaments that flicker and flutter like elements of a tri-colored hoop coming off one by one. Already, we feel a new tonal color in Scanner who uses here several new instruments from the Elektron company, such as the Analog Four and especially the Digitakt which has a bank of rhythms as complex as seductive. And this can be heard on Air in the Air which gets discovered in our ears by a spectral synth wave. The hoo-hoos floats like a threat in Paranormal Activities as the wave slowly creeps along. There's a whole arsenal of sound that unfolds here and it will radiate out over the next 8 tracks. An elastic beat, similar to a Bolo ball, emerges, creating a structure of suspended rhythm to which is grafted dull beats and occasional explosions of an old champagne cork. The ear identifies 3 rhythmic structures that clash in a movement where fluidity collides with a jolting sound texture, creating a jerky surface movement where that dark opening wave crawls along with an oblong line of agonizing riffs. Each track in THE HOMELAND OF ELECTRICITY becomes a destination where our ears dock into a complex enchanting universe. Another Aircraft is more of an atmospheric kind with a variegated opening uniting a voice in a parlophone and tinklings of a spiritual value. They stick to a plaintive synth layer torn between a serene vision and those drones that come and go while having a musical sound texture. Murmurs can be also hear. Here and at some points in this album. Grain, Letting Go also adopts an atmospheric vision with rapid rhythmic oscillations that resemble aquatic suction cup momentums. A series of small lost steps organize a wandering rhythm underneath morose synth layers.
The first track to literally capture my interest right away on this latest Scanner album is Beginning of an Unknown Century. Its sonic scent reminds me of Death in Vegas in the fascinating The Contino Sessions album. Its opening of industrial cybernetic punk and its strong line of sonic resistance garnished of radiating white noises unlocks towards a fusion of static rock and Electronica wrapped in a heavy texture of Psybient. It's a prelude to Artemovsk, by far the pièce de resistance of THE HOMELAND OF ELECTRICITY. This title named in honor of the Ukrainian filmmaker Laris Shepitko, that's its birthplace, proposes nothing less than a splendid structure of dribbled sequences under a sound sky sheared by aerial attacks. This is a solid electronic rock with a Chris Franke kind of sequencing. At last it moves into Silence is an ambient track full of murmurs that slides on a sensual melancholic bass line. Heaven Research Unlimited is activated on a cloud of bells whose tinklings disperse on a rhythmic line sculpted on the elastic effects of a bass line that grumbles like the gurgling stomach of a headless beast. The tone of the track stretches its roots up to Acentria, which deploys an armada of loops oscillating with a random level of velocity that responds to the staccato effects of the orchestrations. As one can see, the rhythms take different forms in this album which privileges them however a little more than in An Ascent. Traces upon Traces ends this brilliant Scanner opus on a more atmospheric note, with some elements taken from Heaven Research Unlimited. A solid CD from start to end!
Sylvain Lupari (June 22nd, 2022) ****½*
Available at DiN Bandcamp