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Amon Tobin - Solid Steel Presents Amon Tobin: Recorded Live

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Artist: Amon Tobin

Album: Solid Steel Presents Amon Tobin: Recorded Live

Label: Ninja Tune

Review date: Oct. 5, 2004

For the fourth volume of its Solid Steel Mix series, Ninja Tune offers up a blistering live set by Amon Tobin recorded in Melbourne, Australia in December of last year. Apparently, the CD is the result of a new and complex software/hardware bundle that Tobin’s been using on the road. Practically but enigmatically named “Final Scratch,” the package purportedly allows maximum tweakage and mixage of multifarious sonic bricolage with minimal manual vinyl manipulation.

The software is only as good as the one who wields it, and Tobin proves himself more than capable. The disc is both intellectually and intuitively enjoyable; at the halfway point and about two-thirds in, Tobin heats things up after lulls in the music recall the spacily enticing intro. His own tracks — mainly from Out from Outwhere — are interspersed with those by artists as diverse as Dizzee Rascal, DJ Food and Velvet Underground, creating a sound-stew heavily peppered with Tobin’s lately-favored live-sounding drum patterns and organ overlays.

VU’s “Venus and Furs” is even heavier than the original — the sadomasochistic lyrics receiving an extra layer of gospel and dirt from Tobin’s arsenal of gritty organs, thuds and moans. Tobin’s own tracks are often treated less reverently, “Chronic Tronic” being a case in point. Faster than its studio counterpart, it suddenly slows and sputters, each moment being stretched to breaking point, then stops, the glacial movement leaving a wash of synths and flutes in its wake.

The disc is full of memorable moments like these, and it’s only too bad that a Destiny’s Child track had to be left out for licensing reasons. Still, it’s a great comp, a great live set and a very enjoyable listen.

By Marc Medwin

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