Amon Tobin


A dark, perverse call of 'Eureka' echoes around Amon's lab/studio as something new takes shape. Like an alternate universe in a Philip K. Dick novel, Amon's musical spaces are based on the familiar, but one must wonder as one journeys through it, what is real- and whether the world will ever look the same again.

Cutting up source material into tiny bits, Amon has elevated the sampler from tool to instrument, creating worlds of sound from stacks of vinyl and a multitude of genres, from jazz to Bollywood, from Brazilian rhythms to hip hop. And while the music is a feast of samples, everything found is new again, as it's warped, filtered, reversed and distorted as some fantastic breakbeat monster.

Amon first recorded as Cujo for Ninebar Records, culminating in his debut album, "Adventures In Foam". Ninja heard an early 12" and began speaking to him - the result was 1997's classic, "Bricolage". Described as being like "stuffing Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey and Mingus into a compression chamber..." (Rough Guide To Drum & Bass), the album was an international success. It was followed up by the darker but no less rhythmically stunning "Permutation". People began comparing Amon to Ennio Morricone, artists as diverse as David Byrne and Cannibal Corpse went out of their way to praise him and Tobin found himself playing sold out shows at the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Knitting Factory in New York and the Coachella Festival. In fact, so successful was Amon in North America that "Permutation" was the best selling album of '98 for the renowned Other Music store in NYC, outselling the likes of Bjork, Massive Attack and Air.

Following the massive success of "Permutation" Amon dropped "Supermodified", which was in some ways a departure, in others a development of everything that had gone before. The record is an experiment in sound - bass sounds made from motorbikes and tubas, breaks made from spitting and farting. The warped creativity continued was undoubtedly enhanced by Tobin's choice of collaborators. Chris Morris (of Brass Eye and Blue Jam fame) appears on "Bad Sex" ("Now chuck the spade at the child...") released on the "Slowly" 10" (April 2000), while Precursor features Montreal cyber-beatboxer Quadraceptor double-timing it like his tongue's on fire.

All of which brings us to "Out From Out Where". Darker, more complex, even more rhythmically driving and intense than ever before, this huge record has cemented Tobin's reputation as one of the most innovative and important names in electronic music today. Taking a compositional approach, Tobin delivers massive widescreen lush production, flips hip hop on its head with the barely decipherable 'Verbal', gives sci-fi a new soundtrack with 'Back from Space' and screws with our understanding of what is possible.

"Out From Out Where" differs from its predecessors in that they were made using only found sound (most of them generated by Amon himself) while here he steps back to some slightly more traditional sources (displaying in particular, a love of guitar licks). But when Tobin takes a sample source, he is never happy until he has smashed and fucked with it until it sounds like something straight from his head. And not just anywhere in his head, but that dingy, cobwebbed corner where no one should go…

In fact, this has to be the most straight-up nasty and dangerous album that Tobin has yet made - music with the power to lull you into a false sense of security, and dropping seriously subversive hints that all is not as it seems, and possibly, never ever was. Collaborating with notables such as Steinski and Kid Koala in the months since the album, Amon has shown his ability to mesh his sound with musical sources outside of those he creates and recreates in his own studio. This can only keep us guessing where he will lead us to next.