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The Scanner Game
hybrid The Planet Scanners meet Endgame live recordings

Many years ago, when in Shapeshifter, I (Alan Freeman) suggested the idea of getting together a live improvisation ensemble. The closest we got to it at the time was a "Shapeshifter Jam" gig whilst Maureen was away in the USA. Later, the trio Endgame was formed, whose whole oeuvre is purely improvised. Meanwhile, Chris Conway had been trying out improvisational ideas with The Rain Garden and various jazz combos, eventually leading to the formation of The Planet Scanners. After both playing support at Shapeshifter gigs, we then came up with the idea "Why not do a whole improv night, with each band doing a set, followed by a big jam?" - and that's what we did!

The resulting daring adventure of Endgame together with The Planet Scanners, in totally improvised mode, is quite a beast to behold. I guess that we even amazed ourselves the first time round. It could have all been a big mess, but wasn't. Obviously, the fact that we'd all worked together in some combination before (5 of us had all played in Shapeshifter at some time) led to a certain intuitive way of reacting to each other. Chris Conway is obviously the key instigator of the melodic aspect, whereas Andy Fitzsimons tends avoid getting at all rhythmic if possible, giving ample room for Mick Oxtoby's violin and Endgame's range of extraneous noises to get up to all sorts of sonic mischief! Beyond that the experience is really indescribable. The Scanner Game is unique!

review from Audion #53...



(Auricle Music AMCDR 068) CDR 48m

The Scanner Game is a project of Endgame and The Planet Scanners with guests. It was performed live at the Musician pub in Leicester on the 28th of June 2005. The music is one big “jam”, where at the same time, a lot is going on. All sorts of instruments where used, and beside that even a turntable and of course all are heavily treated.

    The piece with the funny title Dad Have You Been Drinking?, I Was Courteous starts with low drum beat and all sorts of rumbling and industrial noises bursting through, while in the background pure electronic old effects twinkle. Occasional guitar howling like the call of a mythological beast (actually Dave's hurdy-gurdy - Alan) pierces through. Strange processed whispering voices and voices in trance bring a haunting quality to the piece. There’s so much going on, it would be pointless to describe everything in detail, so I limit myself to the main course. And even that is difficult cause it shifts faster then I can write, but after 15 minutes more abstract electronic sounds whirl around, the crowded, but not overcrowded atmosphere has been cooling down. Halfway a repetitive melody accompanied by the low drumbeat (from the beginning) and reverberated voices before a moving background have occurred. Around 30 minutes it even deceives the listener in thinking that it becomes ambient, just when a camouflaged sequence pattern picks up the pace. But that’s gone before you know and we dive in sea of pulsating bubbles and increasing outbursts of harsh sounds with high amplitude. The last ten minutes bring the listener into a deep meditative state were he drifts in a landscape out of time.

    Despite the abstract nature, it still has a deeper emotional level and it gets never boring thanks to a cohesive slow motion merry-go-round of sounds. All in all a strong treat for the die-hards of experimental music.

Roel Steverink

live at The Musician...


MUSICI - CDR Auricle AMCDR 053 (2004)
COURTEOUS - CDR Auricle AMCDR 068 (2005)

original The Scanner Game tracks on other releases...
 AURICLE 2005 SAMPLER - CDR Auricle AMSCDR 013 (2006) track: Courteous (remixed extract)

The Scanner Game reviews in Audion - #50/15, #53/38


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