The best thing about this new Scanner track, “Phenol Time,” isn’t that it’s a peek inside his sonic practice (he made the piece to test out a new piece of tech), nor that it’s a good sign he’s managing to make music even though he just moved his home (“two trucks carrying the bulk of my life, several tonnes of books, records, recording equipment, clothing, and all the detritus of a life”). The best thing is it’s a return to his roots. The track is a mix of warbling synthesized tones infused with the sort of overheard recordings with which he made his name, quite literally. Early Scanner recordings used the police surveillance device of that name to snatch conversations from the ether. Here, he simply recorded some boisterous, angry neighbors and mangled their voices beyond recognition and comprehension. (“The voices are boys fighting outside my window a few months ago,” he writes in the accompanying note, “darkly disguised and distorted.”) The result is another in his long line of impressionistic narratives about emotional conflict.
Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/scanner. More from Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, at scannerdot.com. What he’s testing out is a new synthesizer called the Phenol, from Kilpatrick Audio, which was funded on Kickstarter; more details at kilpatrickaudio.com.