Amon Tobin (dj Set)
Immediately upon hearing this record, the powers that be at Ninja Tune signed him up to record as Amon Tobin, and he quickly went to work on his debut 'Bricolage'. If you'll recall, these were the 'trip-hop' years for electronic music, where any clown with a sampler and a collection of Blue Note records could knock off some half-baked boutique hotel background music. But 'Bricolage' shone above all that. Although employing a marriage of jazz and beats, it stretched it further by bringing in elements of bossa-nova, batucada, and jungle, and combining it with a sense of song-writing that elevated it above the standards of that aforementioned scene. I mean hell, it has a song on it which was inspired by Amon taking a piss on his neighbors bike after some domestic living dispute (‘A Day In My Garden’)...this was clearly no good vibes jazzy beats guy Ninja had signed.
Next up came 'Permutation'. Although stylistically a logical follow up to 'Bricolage', it was also on this album where things starting taking a noticeable turn to a much darker output. In fact you can actually trace Amon’s career based on coffee shop & dinner party accessibility...and let's just say that this record signaled the end of anyone being able to use Amon records as background music. This one cut a wide path; from the film tributes of 'Like Regular Chickens' & 'People Like Frank', to the monster breaks on 'Sordid' (easily his biggest 'hit' in the catalog), to the caravan-esque shuffle of 'Nightlife', and ending with the ultra-lush 'Nova' (which later was used for Bebel Gilberto's 'Samba Da Bencao on her debut album).
Call it end of millennium tension, but while the rest of us were out stockpiling food for the apocalypse, Amon was channeling all that into his next release 'Supermodified'. Treating it like if this was the end of the human race as we knew it and computers would never work again (or god forbid, if we were to be ruled by apes), than damn if he wasn't going make this banger before the lights went out. If Amon's career is a 4LP set, then this 3rd installment appropriately comes off like the 3rd side of any 4LP 70's rock opus...a time to push some boundaries, challenge the fans a bit, and set the stage for what's to come later. The record was an experiment in sound. Marking the point where Amon become more and more obsessed with unheard but felt bass frequencies, and where he allowed a few collaborators into the mix (mainly Chris Morris of Brass Eye & Blue Jam fame, and Montreal beatboxer Quadraceptor). The record where the bossa-nova/jazz Amon Tobin was for the most part laid to rest and the dark/electronic/soundtrack Amon Tobin came into form. 'Four Ton Mantis' is a classic, 'Deo' would have done Sergio Leone proud, and 'Get Your Snack On' paid tribute to one of the Internet's finest fake commercials.
In 2002, Amon decided to relocate to Montreal. As Ninja Tune's North American headquarters is based there he'd spent a lot of time soaking in the culture and summer sunshine of the city, never once thinking that he'd never actually visited during the winter... So somewhere around the time he felt the sensation of his nose hairs freezing for the first time, he settled into his new studio armed with a fresh set-up and an A La Carte Express menu by his side (Montreal's bible of food for shut-ins) to put the finishing touches on 'Out From Out Where'. When Sun Ra penned the song ‘Out From Out There’, 'there' clearly meant outer space. When Amon decided to call his record 'Out From Out Where', the 'where' meant just that... a record that came from somewhere nobody could quite pinpoint. This was the logical conclusion of what the previous records had hinted at. It was a cohesive and banging record, but one with no obvious reference points. It just sounded like Amon Tobin, and Amon (more so than a lot of artists) can actually say his sound is very much recognizable as his own. This was wide screen Amon, dropping the cut-up hip hop of 'Verbal', the Eli Wallach inspired 'Hey Blondie', the future electro-disco of 'Cosmo Retro Intro Outro', and the terrifying death march of 'Proper Hoodidge' .The tour for this album also resulted in Amon's entry into the Solid Steel mix series, with a tough ass Final Scratch DJ set captured in Australia released in June 04.
In 2004 video game developers Ubisoft decided to approach Amon to compose all the music for the 3rd installment of their enormously popular Splinter Cell series. Seeing as he wasn’t able to get past the second level of Splinter Cell 1, he thought that making the soundtrack would clearly be an easier way to interact with this game. This was a chance for Amon to experiment with different ways of composing and to finally realize a teenage ambition (although the soundtrack in no way reflected his love for Galaga…even though that was a hot game). Also composing a proper soundtrack allowed him to be a little more progressively excessive, with the inclusion of extended string arrangements and over the top Hammond organ solos woven into his sounds. Like Italian prog sensation Goblin composing for a Bond film would be an apt comparison for this work. A love of soundtracks has always been a key influence in his work, and it clearly showed here. The game was released in March 05. An accompanying soundtrack on Ninja Tune was released soon after on CD/LP/ and 5.1 DVD-Audio. The surround element was pushed even further on the handful of live dates he did for this release. The thing about an Amon show is that you could always escape the immense volume by going to the back of the room... in surround there is no escape folks.
After his foray into the video game world Amon stepped back and took a hard look at what the next record would be comprised off. Having made several albums from reconstructed vinyl sources it was time to look at what else could be pulled apart and reassembled. The focus now has shifted from the source material altogether and placed squarely on the manipulation of sound regardless of it's origin. Armed with a sound engineer (Vid Cousins) and a collection of microphones he set out to find source material in pretty much everyplace possible. Robotics, animals, insects, musicians, utensils, motorbikes, and about a thousand other things that made interesting noises were all mic'ed and fashioned into the tracks that make up his new album 'Foley Room'. It should be noted that although the process was quite experimental that the record isn't an exercise in avant-garde music. Rather the end result is still pure Amon Tobin but pushed miles forward in sonics and melody due to the depth of source material. Also Amon isn't claiming to have invented the wheel here but rather is paying a certain hommage to a long history of musique-concrete composition, at the same time satisfying his love for pushing the envelope of his output and knowledge of the recording process. The process itself is documented on a short film/documentary that will be included with the CD & LP release of this record. Watch for an early single "Bloodstone" to be released on 12" and digital formats as a lead up early in 07, and the full album 'Foley Room' to drop in March 07.