Scanner’s moniker was established in the 1990s when he used the electronic device to sweep the airwaves and broadcast live random phone conversations over his music. However, he stopped doing it after 9/11 for what he calls ‘paranoia reasons’. ‘I figured that I would be arrested,’ he says. ‘It was bad enough trying to explain what a Theremin is at Frankfurt airport.’ It was also a moment of realisation. ‘I asked myself: do I really want to be known as the man whose career was listening to other people?’ It is perhaps no surprise, then, that other curious pseudonyms inform his latest project, ‘Flow Forms’ – interpretations of Tudor composer John Dowland’s ‘Lacrimae, or Flow My Tears’. Next Saturday, as a Spitalfields Festival associate artist, Scanner performs his ‘Dowland Remix’ to accompany a film by Chris Turner. It is a concert that also features The Haxan Cloak (aka Bobby Krlic) and an installation from the Computer Junk Orchestra. Meanwhile, Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Walling) has curated four other responses to Dowland, from herself, cellist Laura Moody, Juice vocal trio and electro-acoustic composer Anna Meredith – which they will perform in four secret underground Spitalfields venues.
In his tidy Bethnal Green studio, he plays me the remix on his computer. The music begins faithfully before morphing through various styles, including techno, lush cinematic soundtrack and percussive rock workout, yet it is still recognisable as Dowland’s tune. ‘It is a fantastic progression,’ he says. ‘It never resolves itself; it unravels, but the thread never ends.’
But why did such a technology-savvy artist choose a lugubrious lute song from the seventeenth century? ‘Dowland has intrigued me since I was a teenager,’ he says. 'When I was a student, I was listening to all kinds of eclectic pop music, rock, industrial and experimental, but I used to go home on a Friday afternoon and listen to “Choral Evensong” on the radio.’ It has obviously made a lasting impression. ‘The older you get, the more you realise that melancholia and pathos are very English, in a way,’ he says. ‘There is a lyricism in the folk music of Ireland and Scotland, whereas English music is about sadness – not in a negative way, just much slower and more elegiac.’
Judging by the remix, it is a sentiment that he has retained and yet brought excitingly up to date.
See Scanner at Spitalfields Summer Festival
When Time Out interviewed Mick Jagger in advance of the opening of Exhibitionism – a massive touring retrospective of stuff dedicated to the history of The Rolling Stones – he told us: 'What I didn’t want was for it to all be on screens. People live their lives on screens so much that if people don’t see a screen for a second, they think they’re not alive.’ It’s odd then that’s exactly how Exhibitionism has ended up: on many, many screens. The exhibition starts in 1962 with a neat recreation of the band’s first shared house on Edith Grove in Chelsea. It’s a rare moment of Stones self-mockery. Visitors walk through a kitchen, bedroom and living room that can only be described as a squalid hellhole, complete with overflowing ashtrays, washing-up piled high and crust developing on filthy unmade beds. Pity the band’s early groupies. The Rolling Stones in Edith Grove It’s a big relatable opening that doesn’t require a degree in Stones mythology to enjoy. Yet it’s a shame that Exhibitionism doesn’t sustain that level of broadness throughout. While Exhibitionism is as big and brash as the band itself, at times Exhibitionism veers toward the obscure and trivial. After the squalor, the exhibition carries on strongly with a recreation of the Stones’s studio world. Though most of the items – such as Charlie’s drum kit – are hidden behind glass, visitors are able to engage with the band’s music in a novel way: by remixing certain songs on iPads and headphones. It gives you the chanRead more