The PAN duo map a dystopian hi-tech future on their "avant-EDM" debut LP.
Under another alias, Renaissance Man, Haimala and Kalliala produced dance music with a bright, commercial sensibility. That has carried over into the Amnesia Scanner project, in which catchy pop foundations are exaggerated with layers of jarring maximalism. Those foundations are clear on "AS Too Wrong" and "AS Chaos," but warped with distorting effects the results are distinctly dystopian. By exaggerating chart music clichés—chopped-up vocals, easily digestible lyrics, dance rhythms—they create a kind of satire with its own serious sonic identity.
But not everything is so tongue-in-cheek. The duo's abundant use of sound piling and vocal tracks, heavily layered with different tunings, are key to Another Life's complex emotional qualities. The LP's prevailing tensions, as expressed in tracks such as "AS Symmetribal" and "AS Faceless," closely mirror themes explored in cyberpunk sci-fi, in which societies unravel in an age of technological supremacy. Nu-metal guitar riffs, heavy distortion and manic bursts of EDM-style instrumentation help establish these apocalyptic undertones.
Two appearances from Pan Daijing aside, the verses on Another Life are sung by an inhuman character. The duo describe it as "a disembodied voice called Oracle, which represents the sentience that has emerged from Amnesia Scanner." It delivers palatable lyrics and pop melodies, but the modulation is haunting and unearthly. The Top 40-esque familiarity established by this unfeeling voice renders it all the more ominous when Amnesia Scanner get more abrasive. By contrast, Daijing's vocals express outright anxiety, sing-shouting her lyrics with a pressing urgency.
In many ways, Another Life captures the zeitgeist of the late '00s. While technology has fully integrated into our lives and enriched them with convenience and entertainment, we are also faced with new anxieties. Imminent environmental consequences, technology developing beyond our control, the surreality of late capitalism. The LP, in turn, maps our fears, unease and suspicions, while Oracle's pop presence masks them with a pleasant, progressive face. Haimala and Kalliala's ability to balance dense, challenging layers of sound design with pop music insights is consummate. Like staring at a laptop screen for so long the glut of information makes you feel sick, Another Life is a complete sensory overload you can't turn away from. It's the duo's most triumphant release yet.
Fri / 7 Sep 2018
01. AS Symmetribal
02. AS Unlinear feat. Pan Daijing
03. AS A.W.O.L.
04. AS Another Life
05. AS Daemon
06. AS Too Wrong
07. AS Spectacult feat. Oracle
08. AS Faceless
09. AS Chain
10. AS Securitaz
11. AS Chaos feat. Pan Daijing
12. AS Rewild