Spore

Scanner, 1995

Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) is an electronic artist who rose to notoriety using a loophole in British privacy laws. Building music from pirated cellphone conversations is exactly the type of thing you would come across in the pages of the WIRE, first. I would've too, given enough time (they covered his activity plenty), but the populist techno compilation series, Trance Europe Express beat them to the punch. Even if the eavesdropping puts you off, he'll make a voyeur out of you, with all the overtones that implies—from the lonely loser of Kieslowski's Red to the police state panopticons of 1984. These voices may not say much of anything, but entirely mundane exchanges are supercharged by our knowledge of being an unwelcome listener.

Scanner's first records existed as concrète audio collages—a pastiche of illicit voices and airwave static. It demanded a superior sound sculptor to make them survive repeat listens. Rimbaud eventually inched away from these airwaves dreams. Whether the privacy laws were updated or not, leaning on them for too long would surely devolve into schtick. Spore sits at the cusp of this pivot, merging the still-beating heart of stolen conversations with a dystopian electronica.