Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Versions to appear on www.earplug.cc

Artist: Amon Tobin
Album: Solid Steel Mix
Label: Ninja Tune
Release: August 12

Reclusive by nature, Brazil's Amon Tobin prefers to let his warped, cut-up breakbeat constructions do the talking. Having recorded three artist albums for Ninja Tune, he contributes the fourth mix to the Solid Steel series, utilizing FinalScratch technology to allow him unlimited access to his own songs as well as the tunes that inspire him. This studio performance, free of any post-production, is an excursion into leftfield breakbeats and swollen bass lines, with tinges of drum 'n bass and downtempo to even things out. Rarely do you find one track playing on its own — generally, it's a multi-layered sonic collage constructed on the fly. Tobin airs special edits of his own productions, and, lest things get too abstract, he throws in a reworking of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs." Amon Tobin is as jaw-droppingly innovative improvising as he is on his albums. (CJN)

Artist: Biosphere
Album: Autour de la Lune
Label: Touch
Release: July 6

In the 19th century, Jules Verne penned the eerily prophetic De la Terre à la Lune, which described a manned space flight launching from Florida and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. Having been granted access to a '60s audio dramatization of the piece from Radio France's archives, Biosphere, aka Geir Jenssen, combined the material with his own productions and added samples sourced from the Mir space station. The result can most closely be compared to Brian Eno and Harold Budd's homage to the space age, Apollo. Biosphere's Autour de la Lune is a nine-movement symphony characterized by soft, expansive ambient tones and an occasionally menacing and otherworldly feel. Undoubtedly abstract by virtue of the subject matter and source material, the record conjures the vastness of space without resorting to cliche. (CJN)

Artist: Adam Freeland
Album: Fabriclive 16
Label: Fabric
Release: June 28

Though he has focused recently on his live band, Freeland, Adam Freeland's heart is behind the decks. He is widely seen as the world's foremost breaks DJ, and spends a disproportionate amount of his time touring. This latest edition of the Fabric series offers an excellent representation of what he has been playing out. Mixed using three decks, CDJs, and software effects, it runs the gamut from rock-influenced productions to the heavyweight electro bombast of LFO's "Freak." Moving toward a more organic, eclectic vibe, the mix is a welcome departure from the overly tech-focused sound that has dominated the breaks scene (especially in the US). The mixing allows subgenres to cohabitate and complement each other — one highlight is an Aesop Rock a cappella over Evil 9's heavyweight "Crooked," along with the crunchy synthesizer tones of Radioactive Man's "Airlock." (CJN)

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