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Amnesia Scanner & Freeka Tet – STROBE.RIP Review

The sound of electric dystopia is here and I love it.

What does Amnesia Scanner sound like?

Twisted electronica that sounds like musical epilepsy and demonic possession to dance to.

The review of Amnesia Scanner & Freeka Tet – STROBE.RIP

Approaching their first album Amnesia Scanner teamed up with vocalist and artist Freeka Tet for a full collaboration. With each album, Amnesia Scanner has wanted to push further into art installations, videos and physical products to expand its artistic universe. With STROBE.RIP, the collaboration takes on a hacker mentality to music. This is a highly-engineered album.

Amnesia Scanner

Previously a lot of Amnesia Scanner’s music has been aggressive, harsh and taut. There is plenty of this on the album but there is a warped deconstruction going on this time. ‘Tongue Demons’ is a frantic opener with stabbing synths, harsh kick beats and chewed-up noises. You can’t tell exactly where the original noises came from but it is like the song itself is inside a mouth. It sets the tone for what Amnesia Scanner call a ‘reverse heroes journey’ into humanity’s psychotic mixtape.

‘Giggle’ and ‘Bound’ are two tracks early on that play with downbeat melodies. The former takes warped electric pianos and vocal samples that collapse in on themselves like distant cries but places a great beat on it. The latter is a broken ballad of pitch-shifting vocals with a torched atmosphere behind it all. This brings us to the visceral ‘Ledge’ which processed sounds like rhythmic warning sirens. The drum snare is like a whip and the computerised tone feels sinister and dangerous. It’s classic Amnesia Scanner and having Freeka Tet in as a consistent vocal provides the narrative anchor to hold the craziness together. ‘Disperse’ then takes the album into nu-metal territory with raging tiny guitars with a tube effect on them whilst the vocals have guitar feedback processed through them. It is sleazy and anti-anthemic in the best possible way.

Signalling that this entire album is being conducted from hell, ‘Ride’ is the hedonic dancefloor hit that never was. Shuffling muted pads fly around with microscopic tripping beats adding to the summer heat in a subtle way. Add in heavily processed vocals and a detuned saxophone solo and you have a truly unique take on goth clubbing.

Far harder hitting is the crunchy alt guitars and warped screams of ‘Damon’. A song that can’t decide if it should be a horror soundtrack or a dark metal track, ‘Damon’ does both. The processed nature of the guitars makes them sound like they are suffocating themselves and the kazoo outro is just black comedy. It shifts perfectly into the playfully haunted ‘Clown’. Here, rubbery synths race, squeak and fart their way around your speakers to reggae rhythms and wubwub basslines. Again, Freeka Tet’s vocals are pitch-shifted multiple octaves to create his own call and response to himself and it works so well.

Moving from the creepy to the abstract, ‘’ is all about tempo shifts. This track starts out quite chill with deep rhythms and thick bass melodies before slowing itself down to a stuttering crawl. In comes an 80s vocoder and a synth that reminds me of a stylophone to freestyle over the top of a broken-down club beat as the whole track falls apart in front of your ears. With the music now fragmented ‘Scorpions, Bats & Spiders’ takes us into the abstract. With spoken word over the top, the track is made up of reversed, pitch-shifted vocals like the girl in the TV in Poltergeist. In an album crammed full of experiments, this is the most abstract piece.

Amnesia Scanner and Freeka Tet aren’t done yet. ‘Cat’ is their demonic take on Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’. Using the same razor-sharp saw waves, vocal screams, darker melodies and claustrophobic drums haunt every bar. As the song develops it takes on a Commoder 64 fuzz but becomes incredibly hypnotic with its sliced-up vocal snippets and rhythms. That leaves the pixelated harsh white noise infused ‘Merge’ to close out the album. Harsh, visceral, explosive and designed to be played loud, this track is apocalyptic. Everything is razor sharp to cut your hearing and aggressively hammer home an impending dread. This is what I come to Amnesia Scanner for and they absolutely deliver.

Unlike the previous two albums, there isn’t a standout single or immediate hook-filled track that can ease you into ‘STROBE.RIP’. That said, this album has an impending dangerous doom to it that is inescapable. It seeps into every note and every pore and becomes infectious. No one else makes something quite as engineered to haunt and distort like Amnesia Scanner. Freeka Tet’s vocals are an excellent addition and fit right into the apocalypse with them too. It’s not an easy listen, but if you love dark electronic music, this album is a must. The soundtrack to dystopia is here and I love it.

Recommended track: Ledge

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Amnesia Scanner & Freeka Tet - STROBE.RIP



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