Amon Tobin – ISAM: Control Over Nature (Ninja Tunes/Inertia)


Amon Tobin, all round fractured beatmaster launches a musical campaign. For this is not simply an album but a dedicated website, collaborative installation between Amon Tobin and Saatchi Collection artist Tessa Farmer, film and a collection of differing modes of release. So expect full spectrum domination if you are in it’s cultural flightpath.

That introductory nonsense aside, the album awakens as a sleepy organic high tech machine full of depth charge beats and high end melodic twinkles with cut up fractured not quite glitch flourishes as it saunters through plays on effects laden sampling mastery. ‘Journeyman’ which opens the album is almost an overture of the whole album and a suggestion of the sense of dedication to the craft and includes the repeated instrumental nod to the Beatles ‘1-2-3-4-5-6-7 All Good Children Go To Heaven’. But this is sampledelic land at it’s high pitch so all the crate diggers will have a field day listening to the album and demonstrating their audio memory. Again, that aside Tobin wields a crunchy mechanistic display on ‘Piece of Paper’, with the psychedelic mindset and futuristic euphoric melding in bombastic symphony. ‘Goto10’ has rave and beat influences pushing it’s limits on a restrained march all wired up effects aesthetic lumbering to it’s target. ‘Surge’ starts as an audio motorbike videogame cut up with effect playing havoc with the nervous system, going though changes and emitting long streams of data signals .’Lost and Found’ starts dark with deep smashed beats wavering all over the place as a mandolin or bouzouki claims the high part of the mix, to be joined by choral and vocal parts. It moves into a slow almost dripping and quiet space towards the end using all the differing parts. There is the slow playful ‘Kitty Cat’s with slightly wonky organ and childlike vocals moving like a reminisced piece of sixties psychedelia it aims true to the distorted psyche that Tobin threads through the album, all thrown into strange possibilities, organic and technological with a hint of menace overcome by an insistence on playfulness and joy. The almost penultimate track on the album ‘Dropped from the sky’ plays a teasing game with the mind building up effects and layers, from an outset psychedelic chorus to a skittish effects land, going back into hip hop psyche land attuning the machine with a gleeful beat clunkery and moving back into plays on ‘1-2-3-4-5-6-7 All Good Children Go To Heaven’ and fusing the psychedelic sensibility into a plodding wonky full spectrum epic.

ISAM: control over nature, explores “sensory deprivation, disorienting situationism and the mechanisation of natural things.” So if you consider how such a trajectory would be with its a collection and rearrangement of sound sources whether from music, sampling or from nature, field recording. Alongside these elements is a masterly beatsmithing playing on effects driven sensibility and playing with the range and possibilities of the technology. It incorporates a wide ranging ear to the themes and forms of music of the modern era and has hooks displayed to rip into the minds of the the unlikely listener. If you listen to it alone for it’s technical display you will be satisfied, but be prepared it is a high tech psychedelic monster.



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