Q&A WITH HEADSCAN IN SIDE-LINE MAGAZINE
Headscan released an impressive debut, "Shaper and Mechanist" in 2001. The disc contained technoid rhythms, ebm, and crystal clear robotic synth vocals. "Dead Silver Sky" bestowed us a glimpse into Headscan's future. That futuristic vision is finally realized with the Canadian duo's latest and most ambitious release, "Pattern Recognition" on Artoffact/Alfa-Matrix Records. "Pattern Recognition" features elements of "Shaper and Mechanist," however the beats thunderous, the sequences emphatic, and themes intricate. We corresponded with Claude Charnier, master of electronic flow control, to discuss the secrets of recognizing our own 'hierarchies of data' with technology and life. (By Christopher Hoppe)
SL. What is the central theme of "Pattern Recognition"?
C. The human ability to distinguish signal from noise, to distinguish meaningful utterances from nonsense, It's the human capacity for pattern recognition and reasoning from context. We ordinarily see the world through a haze of preconceptions and fixed ideas that proceed from our desires but we can try and experience reality exactly as it is, without preconceptions and fixed ideas getting in the way, learning how to critically filter the increasing information we are exposed to. It is about self-knowing, the recognition of our essential nature, its essence in the experience. Looking down on life until you see it as it really is, free from illusions; it is a mental divestment of ourself until we recognize our true nature, acknowledge our emotions, lay negativity to rest, and answer fundamental questions about our own being, and about life and death. It's recognition of the inter-relatedness of everything that we are and do.
SL. What are its influences?
C. The album's concept is inspired by our personal interest in analyzing how humans view, identify, and categorize information. We've observed that creating intuitive hierarchies of data, recognizing patterns, and realizing when and how the world is changing have the power to transform our minds. The title is inspired by the work of the American scientist and author Ray Kurzweil and more precisely from reading his book The Age Of Spiritual Machines. We believe that at some point our pattern recognition system becomes sufficiently well developed to not only 'seek' (or take in) patterns from its environment but also within itself. It trawls through memory taking in new patterns. It has the ability to combine two or many more patterns in memory for the sake of establishing new patterns. In effect, it 'looks' within itself in its relentless quest for new patterns. Further, this is a seemingly endless source of patterns to be tapped and at its most developed could be how imagination and reasoning work.
SL. What was the reason for releasing "Lolife" as two singles instead of one very long EP?
C. Since the song "Lolife" is much harder and aggressive than most of the songs on the new album, both the label and we thought it would be nice to propose a two-sided view of what we are and enjoy as musicians, that being hard clubby grooves and more experimental music. It's like having both light and dark side point of views. Christian designed the covers for both CDs so they're slightly different and with Artoffact's will to experiment, he has been able to produce the covers with a silk-screening process. It's a limited release aimed at promoters and dedicated to fans who will probably get one or maybe the set if they feel it is worth it.
SL. On "Shaper and Mechanist" there are samples from "Alphaville", which was a major influence on Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner", which has snippets strategically staged throughout "Pattern Recognition", why do you think that the industrial/ebm scene, or Headscan, is fascinated by these films?
C. Science fiction is often accused of being escapist, trivial, and mindless, but good science fiction examines the human condition against the backdrop of the universe itself. Poetic and visionary, through imagined worlds, alternate societies and made-up scenarios of possible futures, such works ask questions that force us to face ourselves through symbol, metaphor and archetype which is the language of our unconscious minds. The value of science fiction for us goes far deeper than the ability to ask difficult and interesting questions, it invents not only alternative technologies but also alternative cultures, societies and ways of perceiving the world. It stimulates us to think beyond our social and cultural conditioning by confronting us with the question: "what if things were different from the way they are?" It gives us, in other words, freedom of thought.