Words by Andrew Parks
“It looks like the West Memphis Three is trying to start a mosh pit down there.”
Welcome to the truly groundbreaking world that is Amon Tobin‘s ISAM tour; a sensory overload experience on par with the million dollar pyramid set Daft Punk brought to Brooklyn in 2007. Which is quite an achievement when you consider how crowd-pleasing Daft Punk’s music is–bright, bold swatches of filtered house, floor-filling electro and cracked disco– and how challenging it is to consume Tobin’s cold, harsh and undoubtedly heavy approach to interstellar hip-hop and piston-powered electronic music. On record, the Brazilian producer can sound like a pilot who’s knowingly plunged us into a black hole so horrifying we can’t look away as the ship begins to erode in a sea of splintered samples and battering ram beats. In other words, it’s music that’s tailor made for sci-fi movies, or at the very least, video games that feature lots of steely exteriors and explosions. (Sure enough, Tobin scored the game Chaos Theory: Splinter Cell 3.)
In a live setting, we’re all going down together in the most enjoyable manner possible, as restless visuals are projected on a blank, towering sculpture in a way that transcends the very idea of an “intense” live show. As we found out at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple last night, Tobin is determined to obliterate the notion that most electronic musicians are laptop-tethered technicians who don’t know how to answer a crowd’s collective need to be entertained.
Or as he explained in an eMusic interview earlier this year, “If you’re in a studio making an album you can easily say, ‘Fuck everyone, I’m making this music for me,’ and experiment or indulge all you like. Vut if you are going to start standing up and inviting people to come and see you, you kind of owe it to them to have an element of entertainment in some way. You can’t be that selfish in that situation. You have to at least something that’s worth being there for, and that’s where the challenge lies–to transform something very private into something very public. It’s no small thing!”
Here’s the tail end of Tobin’s first encore, best enjoyed in HD on mute–the bass pretty much blew our microphone–while streaming ISAM in full.