Monday, July 19, 2004

Amon Tobin
Ninja Tune

rough draft, but a final version to appear on

Brazil’s Amon Tobin has, like many of his countrymen, rhythm embedded deeply in his soul. His exposure to UK drum and bass from the likes of Goldie and Grooverider added another perspective early on, allowing him an insight into a form of music constructed from sampled breakbeats, with swollen synth basslines and frantic percussive elements. However, unlike fellow Brazilians Marky and Patife, who adopted this as their genre of choice, adding their own native melodies and other touches, Amon chose to adopt a different, unorthodox approach to making music. Fast forward to today, where he has four full lengths of twisted, delightful cut-up, reconstructed jazz breaks out, along with countless singles and remixes.

Live is the fourth installment of the esteemed Solid Steel mix series, essentially modeled from the eclectic spirit and experimentation exhibited on the long-running radio show. Mixed using a program called Final Scratch, Amon was able to access limitless files, re-edits and essentially anything he could fit on his laptop, while controlling them from two coded pieces of vinyl that interface with the computer.

The result is an amalgamation of Amon’s own edits, bottom heavy, floor destroying drum and bass, abstract breaks, a dash of downtempo, and lest things get too out there, a reworking of the Velvet Underground’s Venus In Furs. Rarely is one track playing at a time, rather, Amon is in the mix constantly—layering one track over another and creating sonic collages out of breathtakingly complex tracks. Anyone who has taken to the decks before knows how much focus it takes to keep two tunes in the mix for an extended period, let along tunes like these. Its enough to make the average bedroom DJ’s head spin and give it up altogether.

With the exception of Destiny’s Child refusing to clear their cameo in the mix (and the resulting edit out) the mix was all done on the fly one night in Melbourne. It’s an excellent overview not only into the mind of one of the most innovative electronic producers around, but also into the tunes that he finds inspiration in. Most impressive though is the Djing talent on display. It would have been perfectly acceptable to trigger a few samples from a laptop as many artists play “live” today, but just like with his productions, Amon saw it fit to taking things a step or two further. Bravo to that.

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