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  Amon Tobin - Solid Steel Presents: Recorded Live - Ninja Tunes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Rating: 4.5 out of 5

by Chris "Dahuka" Harrison

Courtesy of Ninjatunes Ever since seeing Amon Tobin at the Echo Lounge in Atlanta a couple of years back, I've been unable to escape the feeling that I didn't catch everything he threw at me that night. A listen to this CD brought the memory of that evening roaring back to life and reminded me of just what kind of sonic assault I had been subjected to.

Tobin's sound, as one reviewer put it, is twisting and organic, and that's exactly what sets Amon apart from other producers. While most electronically produced music admittedly sounds just that—electronic, synthetic, and (dare I say) sterile, Amon's sound is real in every way: real instruments including drums, strings, woodwinds such as flutes, oboes, and the occasional tuba, rub elbows with electronic noises, voices and either skittering percussion or full on big tub drum kits to make much of Tobin's music sound astonishingly symphonic and "live." Think of Steve Albini's production of Nirvana's In Utero or PJ Harvey's Rid of Me. Those albums aren't slickly produced to delete noise and echo; Courtesy of Ninjatunes rather, they accentuate the room noise to make it sound as if you're sitting right there in front of the amps. As this CD makes quite clear, Tobin brings the same big sound to his live sets, along with plates from other artists who share his need for a bigger, more organic sound, not to mention amazing production abilities. Consequently, the tunes on this mix don't sound as if they're being mixed on turntables; rather they sound as if there is a big band (with a really LOUD drummer) right there in your face banging out the tracks. The result is an upfront and immediate sound, worlds apart from the average DJ mix.

Tobin's sound may be loud and "live," but his production techniques are brilliant, as is his mixing. He employs an almost "what mix?" mentality, shifting so effortlessly between such disparaging tunes that it's impossible to keep track unless you keep an eye on the tracklisting and timer. Tobin's use of Final Scratch ensures that many of his more familiar tracks are reworked and beefed up on Pro-Tools beforehand and that others are just plain unavailable. Tobin's mixes are quick and again, organic. He sometimes drops straight into a track offering a sharp, yet not quite distracting, left turn. On the other hand, some of the mixes blend and ride so long that you forget you're listening to two tracks.

Courtesy of Ninjatunes This set covers a lot of ground, but all of it remains within Amon's distinct symphonic, giant drummed, hardcore heavy sound. The mix starts with a few hard breaks tunes ("Verbal" and "Chronic Tronic" among others) before slipping into prog-ish big beat jazz-funk of the Cherrystones' "Pressure Cooker" and Danny Breaks' classic "Science Fu Pt 1." After a short interlude intriguingly titled "You's a Jaco Pastorious Motherfucker," Tobin breaks out the hard stuff. He follows Facs and Scythe's "Schmalla" with full-speed-ahead digital drum solo nastiness (Couger Merkin) and another straight ahead banger before stopping on a dime with T-Power's "Cuba." The Icarus and Controller 7 tracks are difficult to describe; I'll just call them lo-fi funkle, but whatever you call them, they mix brilliantly with the dubby trip-hop of Topogigio and Tobin's mashup of his own "Yasawas/Nightlife/Fear" tunes. The dub offers only a short breather though, before A.T. drops some of the sickest drum and bass imaginable. Exile's tune is pretty straightforward, but the Deep Roots' "Allergic" will have you swatting at imaginary bees while your car flips into a ditch. Suspicious Circumstance's "Completely Real" sounds like a post-Schnapps hangover wretch session. After moving back into some relatively normal jungle (Silent Witness and Break's "Total Recall"), he transitions brilliantly back to dub, using Dizzee Rascal's "Sittin' Here" as a buffer between the jungle and a "Proper Hoodige/Four Ton Mantis/Hey Blondie" mix. This gentle release after an hour of unrelenting power is capped off with a reworking of the appropriately exotic Velvet Underground track, "Venus in Furs."

Overall, Amon Tobin's superior track selection, Pro-Tools skills, and use of Final Scratch ensures that the listener gets something unique and head and shoulders above the rest. A final note, too. I'm not really sure that I'd recommend this to anyone looking for music to dance to; the tempos for the breaks and the dnb are actually a little slower than most, but I wouldn't let that stop you from buying it. This is headphone music at its best—dense and multilayered with an all-encompassing heaviness. After it's over, you don't feel entertained as much as assaulted, even as you're hitting the repeat button to give it another spin, which you will do because, just like being there, it's just too much to swallow at the first sitting. The only detraction from this CD is its 63 minute length. We deserve another 10 minutes for waiting so long for the live mix.

At Amazon.com

Recorded Live from Amazon.com Recorded Live
by Amon Tobin

Track Listing:

  1. Intro - Amon Tobin
  2. Chronic Tronic - Amon Tobin
  3. Dark Lady - DJ Food
  4. Twister - Tipper
  5. Quality Control (acapella) - Jurassic 5
  6. Remix by AFX - AFX
  7. Got Numb - Mob Nation
  8. Pressure Cooker - Cherrystones
  9. Science Fu Part 1 - Danny Breaks
  10. Marine Machines - Amon Tobin
  11. You=B9s a Jaco Pastorius looking Motherfucker
  12. Schmalla - Facs & Scythe
  13. Cougar Merkin - Amon Tobin
  14. Higher Rates - Silent Witness & Break
  15. Cuba (original) - T Power
  16. Moon Palace - Icarus
  17. Reactionary - Controller 7
  18. Nakatali - Topogigio
  19. Yasawas - Amon Tobin
  20. Night Life - Amon Tobin
  21. Fear - Amon Tobin
  22. Escape - Amon Tobin
  23. Deep Impact - Future Prophecies
  24. Spanner in the Worx - Exile
  25. Allergic - Deep Roots
  26. Completely Real - Suspicious Circumstance
  27. Total Recall - Silent Witness & Break
  28. Sittin Here - Dizzee Rascal
  29. Proper Hoodige - Amon Tobin
  30. Four Ton Mantis - Amon Tobin
  31. Hey Blondie - Amon Tobin
  32. Venus in Furs - The Velvet Underground

Order Now at Amazon.com

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