Amon Tobin
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Amon Tobin


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"Pitchfork Foley Room review - March 5 2007"

Amon Tobin
The Foley Room
[Ninja Tune; 2007]
Rating: 8.1

For someone with such an uncanny aptitude for evoking a wide range of cinema-friendly mood music, Amon Tobin's potential as a soundtracker seems to have been largely unrealized. What he does have on his resumé-- the scores to stealth-kill video game Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, a surrealist, morbid Hungarian film about taxidermy, and a car commercial in which a group of presumably nude silhouettes contort their way into the shape of an SUV-- hints at why. Since Tobin makes no distinctions between background and foreground music and tends to wring as much distortion, dissonance, and rhythmic unease as he can from his jazz and orchestral-skewing sample sources, his music tends to evoke a malevolent presence that, whether skulking or charging, easily overwhelms all but the most immersive and eye-catching visual accompaniment.

The irony in Tobin's The Foley Room is that his cinematic ear has spurred him toward different motion picture-derived source material. Paring down his repertoire of bop debris and Ennio Morricone/Jerry Goldsmith evocations, Tobin's assembled his newest album as if he's decided he's exhausted the possibilities of musical instruments themselves and gone outside with a microphone to find out what sort of ambient sounds would make good beats. It makes sense in that the only thing that separates the manipulated sound of a household appliance or the drone of machinery from an electronically generated percussive effect is the element of familiarity; given the way Tobin's samples tend to transmutate traditional orchestration into concussed unrecognizability, manipulating a non-musical effect into a similar state is an inevitable step, one that he initially took in 1998 with Permutation and has been creeping towards ever since.

But while other musique concrète specialists such as Matmos aim to bring specific messages to mind with their thematic choices of sound manipulation, Tobin's approach seems to aim strictly for the aesthetic-- like two slabs of raw steak smacked together to simulate a punch to the head in some 1930s radio serial, the meaning of the medium's less important than how the end result sounds. Some of the effects' usage is a bit self-aware of their non-musical origins: "Kitchen Sink" is just that, a booming series of splashes that sound like elastic liquid dripping into a stainless steel basin and ricocheting its way down the drain; the fuzztone in the metallic drill-n-bass of "Esther's" is boosted by the rumble of a motorcycle engine, "Leader of the Pack" style (a rumble augmented by, and this required looking up, the sound of restless wasps); the title track introduces a few clamorous mess-making tumbles and crashes, shaped into something that sounds like the collapse of a kitchen shelf set to an Art Blakey drum solo.

But not everything is as blatantly laid out: The Robitussin whir that "The Killer's Vanilla" breathes through could be anything from a slowed-down pipe organ to a creaking set of gears passed through a filter or three, not to mention the way "Keep Your Distance" blurs the lines between woodblock-and-cowbell percussion and what seems to be the clamor of a recycling bin tipping over. Since Tobin still uses his share of musical instrumentation (including a memorable Slavic-esque string melody contributed by the Kronos Quartet on "Bloodstone"), figuring where the musician ends and nature or the machinery or the junkpile begins is intriguingly confusing. Supposedly there are recordings of ants eating grass and building acoustics somewhere on this record, but damned if they're easy to pinpoint amidst the beats.

Once the novelty of the record's field recording collage-job settles down, The Foley Room proves to be rhythmically consistent with Tobin's glitchy, post-jungle M.O., if somewhat exploratory; a couple moments flirt with dubstep but get too twitchy and restless to segue all that comfortably into your typical Burial track, and the broken-down carnival dance-rock of "Always" is just close enough to a genuine crowd-pleasing dancefloor number that it's a bit startling when the inevitable diamond-crushing load of distorted bass comes in. In the end, what makes The Foley Room Tobin's best album in seven years is the way his bent for organized chaos manifests as a deft control of every sound that surrounds him: Anything's a beat, everything's a break, and the difference between sound and music is entirely contextual.

-Nate Patrin, March 05, 2007

"Wired Magazine - March 2007"

Wired Magazine 2007
Amon Tobin Bugs Out

Like every good DJ, Amon Tobin tends to make music by plundering vintage vinyl for cool snippets. But for his sixth album, the Brazilian beat junkie decided to take sampling to another level. He’s turned everyday noises – a hive of wasps, a shimmying Slinky, a whirling eggbeater – into richly textured trip hop. To make The Foley Room (sic), Tobin camped out in a studio typically used by sound engineers to record door slams and footsteps for movies. “A Foley room is acoustically dead,” Tobin says. “It makes everything raw with no spatial coloration, which means you can make the sound do whatever you want.” To find some of his “performers”, Tobin ventured out with an omnidirectional mic, capturing everything from someone singing in the shower to a lion devouring a piece of meat. With roughly half a terabyte of material, he then used a technique called convolution reverb to stretch his from-scratch samples into full-fledged songs. The roar of a Harley got warped into a pounding bass line. That hive of wasps – total divas – became a humming groove. “We had a lot of trouble with the insects,” Tobin says. “They wouldn’t stay in one spot.” Hey, at least he can say this new album’s go serious buzz.
– Sean Cooper.
- Wired

"Popmatters Foley Room review - March 2007"

Amon Tobin
Foley Room
(Ninja Tune)
by Nate Dorr

Amon Tobin closed out the last millennium with a series of three definitive albums of dense, lush drum’n’bass. In 1997, Bricolage introduced the style, all fluidly jazz-informed percussion thrashing from within a sheen of reverb and hi-hats and steeped in bits of atmospheric film score. The next year, Tobin further developed his sound on Permutations, with a deeper use of melodic content and a more convincingly “live” drum programming style. Finally, 2000’s Supermodified completed the trifecta with a set of moody instrumental textures and clamorous breakbeats like extended jazz solos, all seamlessly integrated from now-unrecognizable vinyl sources. It’s not so much that all three records were flawless (indeed, at first I found it difficult to travel back from Permutations to Bricolage), but that each offered so strong a vision, such a natural progression from the album preceding it, such inarguable evidence of sheer technical prowess. After an ascent like that, any follow-up would seem disappointing. And they were—2002’s Out from Out Where, shed drum’n’bass for hip-hop inflections, feeling rather emptier for it, and 2005’s soundtrack for the game Splinter Cell III, though offering a few quintessential tracks, often revealed its nature as a backdrop for onscreen action. And as such, the widening release gap ached all the more sharply.

This could be the make-or-break point. A full five years since the last “official”, non-soundtrack album, the Brazilian sound-scientist has re-surfaced with Foley Room, an album boldly forgoing reliance on samples for an additional assortment of live instrumentation and field recordings. Such an album could have ended up overly academic and self-involved, more interested in sound-sourcing than creating the sort of visceral momentum that marked past albums. Or it could have simply drifted out into pure atmospherics and experiments in musique conrète, which could have been interesting, but perhaps disappointing given Tobin’s resume. Fortunately, Foley Room falls into neither of these traps, sounding, even 7 years later, like a smooth, natural progression from Supermodified.

Dubious of the utility of, say, field-recorded zoo lions, as anything more than garnish in a Tobin trip-hop track? Witness “Big Furry Head”, where plucked minor strings and a stark clatter of drums gain a deadly focus and tension from the incorporation of a crisp selection of snarls and rumbles. Rather than simply sitting atop the other elements, these sounds are nestled perfectly into the beat. The track is a single animal and you can practically hear the sinews coiling before the killing leap. Do you, likewise, expect sampled motorcycle engines to be nothing more than kitschy Easy Rider nostalgia? That’s because you’ve never heard one hammered and re-pitched into the shape of the grinding bassline in “Esther’s”, a track with so much raw horsepower (unfortunately not entirely harnessed by the lock-step drum break) that it makes me wonder what would happen if the old dnb standby of Hoover bass was supplanted by Harley bass. These are field recordings at their most viscerally involved, built into their tracks from the ground up.

Throughout Foley Room, melodies are just as well-integrated. Tobin’s past work is perhaps most striking for its ability to meld disparate parts in a completely convincing manner, regardless of source, and the addition of new sources in no way lessens this effect. While live musicians aren’t an entirely new inclusion (the Splinter Cell soundtrack actually involved the orchestrations of several), the addition receives a more proper unveiling here: opener “Bloodstone” is a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet, whose past work includes work with minimalist classical composers like Steve Reich, and Clint Mansel’s soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream. Here, the quartet’s scrapes and sweeps of melody weave thick textures around Tobin’s snatches of piano and verb-washed orchestration, even holding their own against the collapsing factory of percussive noise that eventually attempts to inundate them.

I could go on. “The Killer’s Vanilla” is a taut collection of overdriven organs that eventually allows the drums their long-awaited full velocity, while “Kitchen Sink” is just that, cobbling a near-unidentifiable array of objects into an odd cut and paste exercise that seems to be constantly throwing off bits of cutlery, sticks, and creaking doors—anything, apparently, but actual instruments. Closer “At the End of the Day”, with it’s own collection of strings, atmospherics, and intensely satisfying sprawl of percussion, serves as an effective mirror to the introductory majesty of “Bloodstone”. With the exception of a few more ambient numbers and the generally restrained tempos, which may frustrate fans of the first two albums hoping for a more stable drum’n’bass foundation, there’s little to complain about -

"Exclaim - Top 10 Frequencies - Best of 2007"

#5 Amon Tobin Foley Room (Ninja Tune)

Cooks know that ingredients make all the difference. For his sixth album, Amon Tobin moved his kitchen to Montreal and went organic, enlisting such local luminaries as Stef Schneider (Luyas, Bell Orchestre) and Patrick Watson. With his magnificent ear for nuance and most breathtaking arrangements to date, Tobin’s work on Foley Room is more molecular gastronomy than the usual slice and dice, so finely executed and so carefully reassembled that few of the contributing musicians recognise their own playing.-- Helen Spitzer - Exclaim



Foley Room (CD / DVD / LP) 2007 Ninja Tune

Chaos Thoery: Splinter Cell 3 Soundtrack (CD/LP) 2005 Ninja Tune

Solid Steel Presents Amon Tobin: Recorded Live (CD) 2004 Ninja Tune

Out From Out Where (CD/LP) 2002 Ninja Tune

Adventures in Foam 2002 Ninja Tune

Supermodified (CD/LP) 2000 Ninja Tune

Bricolage (CD/LP) 1997 Ninja Tune

Adventures in Foam (US Version) (CD/LP) 1997 Shadow

Permutation (CD/LP) 1998 Ninja Tune

Adventures In Foam (2LP) 1996 Ninebar (as Cujo)


Lighthouse (12") 2005 Ninja Tune

Collaborations EP (CD/12") 2003 Ninja Tune

Verbal (Remixes) (12") 2003 Ninja Tune

Verbal (CD/12") 2002 Ninja Tune

4 Ton Mantis (CD/12") 2000 Ninja Tune

Slowly (10") 2000 Ninja Tune

Like Regular Chickens (mixes) (12") 1998 Ninja Tune

Piranha Breaks (CD/12") 1997 Ninja Tune

Mission (12") 1997 Ninja Tune

Chomp Samba (CD/12") 1997 Ninja Tune

NO. 4 (2 x 10") 1997 Shadow

Creatures (12") 1996 Ninja Tune

The Remixes (12") 1996 Ninebar (as Cujo)

Break Charmer EP (12") 1996 Ninebar (as Cujo)

Paris Streatham (LP) 1996 Shadow (as Cujo)

Salivate EP 1996 Ninebar (as Cujo)

Curfew 1995 Ninebar (as Cujo)


"The Last Minute" on a compilation of various artists The Last Minute Soundtrack (CD) 2002 Palm Pictures

"Samba da Benção" (co-produced by Amon Tobin and Bebel Gilberto) on Tanto Tempo Remixes by Bebel Gilberto (CD) 2000 Six Degrees

Xen Cuts compilation of various artists including 3 tracks from Amon Tobin (CD/4LP) 2000 Ninja Tune

"Apollo" on a compilation of various artists Club Horizons Volume 1 - Latin Attitude (CD) 2000 Temposphere (as Cujo)

"Piranha Breaks" (DJ Maus mix) on a compilation of various artists mixed by DJ Maus titled Intersections (CD) 2000 TEK

"Apollo" on a compilation of various artists mixed by DJ Rainer Truby titled Rootdown (CD) 1999 NUP (as Cujo)

Funkungfusion (various artists, including 2 tracks by Amon Tobin) (CD/3LP 1998 Ninja Tune

Joint Ventures (collaborations with various artists, appearing on 5 tracks) (CD/LP) 1997 Ninebar/Shadow (as Cujo)

"Clockwork" on a compilation of various artists Further Mutations: Lo Recordings Volume 4 (LP) 1997 Lo Recordings (as Cujo)

"Good Morning" a collaboration with Kraut on Joint Ventures (CD/12") 1997 Ninebar/Shadow (as Cujo)

"The Brazilianaire" on a compilation of various artists The Rumpus Room 1996 Ninebar (as Cujo)


"Cocoa Sun" (Bhangratronic mix) mix of Baikonour from Hot Milk EP (12") 2004 Melodic

"Cirhossis of the Heart" mix of Foetus on Blow 2001 Thirsty ear Recordings

"San Antonio De La Luna" remix of Etienne Daho on Electravedra (CD) 2001 Virgin France

"Easy Smoky Way" (Re-bass mix) mix of Red Room 2001 Red Room Records

"Scuba" remix of Bonobo from Scuba EP (12") 2000 Fly Casual

"Chicken in the Mindo" remix of Airto from Revenge of the Killer Bees (CD) 2000 M.E.L.T

"Dream" remix of Tamia Valmont from Earth Songs (12") 1999 Philips Music

"Hip Wagging, Foot Shuffling" remix of Gak Sato fromHip Wagging, Foot Shuffling RMX (12") 1999 Temposhere

"Pick Up The Pieces Of Saturn" (Mosh mix) remix from Ponga Remix Album (various artists) (CD) 1999 Loosegroove

"Curiosidade" remix of Tom Ze fromPostmodern Platos (EP) (CD) 1999 Luaka Bop Records

"Nepalese Bliss" remix of Irresistible Force from Nepalese Bliss EP (CD) 1998 Ninja Tune

"Grief" remix of Ryuichi Sakamoto from Anger/Grief (CD/12") 1998 Ninja Tune

"Polyesterday" remix of Gus Gus from Polyesterday (CD) 1998 4AD

"Bulawayo" remix of Flavornaughts 1997 Ninebar (Cujo Remix)

"Ladybird" remix of Baby Fox, 1996 Malawi (Cujo mix)

"Curly Locks" remix of Baby Fox, 1996 Malawi (Cujo mix)



Somewhere back in the mid-90's a fresh faced Brazilian ex-pat living in the UK decided he was going to put down his harmonica, pick up a sampler, and name himself after a Stephen King novel. The resulting album, Cujo's 'Adventures In Foam' (released on Ninebar records, later reissued on Ninja Tune) signaled Amon Tobin's entry into the world of music. Well actually there's a pre-Cujo project also, but everybody knows not to talk about it... but if you get Amon really drunk... actually no, even then he won't play it for you.

Immediately upon hearing this record, the powers that be at Ninja Tune signed him up to record as Amon Tobin, and he quickly went to work on his debut 'Bricolage'. If you'll recall, these were the 'trip-hop' years for electronic music, where any clown with a sampler and a collection of Blue Note records could knock off some half-baked boutique hotel background music. But 'Bricolage' shone above all that. Although employing a marriage of jazz and beats, it stretched it further by bringing in elements of bossa-nova, batucada, and jungle, and combining it with a sense of song-writing that elevated it above the standards of that aforementioned scene. I mean hell, it has a song on it which was inspired by Amon taking a piss on his neighbors bike after some domestic living dispute (‘A Day In My Garden’)...this was clearly no good vibes jazzy beats guy Ninja had signed.

Next up came 'Permutation'. Although stylistically a logical follow up to 'Bricolage', it was also on this album where things starting taking a noticeable turn to a much darker output. In fact you can actually trace Amon’s career based on coffee shop & dinner party accessibility...and let's just say that this record signaled the end of anyone being able to use Amon records as background music.

Call it end of millennium tension, but while the rest of us were out stockpiling food for the 2000 apocalypse, Amon was channeling all that into his third release 'Supermodified'. Treating it like if this was the end of the human race as we knew it and computers would never work again (or god forbid, if we were to be ruled by apes), than damn if he wasn't going make this banger before the lights went out. The record was an experiment in sound. Marking the point where Amon become more and more obsessed with unheard but felt bass frequencies, and where he allowed a few collaborators into the mix (mainly Chris Morris of Brass Eye & Blue Jam fame, and Montreal beatboxer Quadraceptor). The record where the bossa-nova/jazz Amon Tobin was for the most part laid to rest and the dark/electronic/soundtrack Amon Tobin came into form.

In 2002, Amon decided to relocate to Montreal. As Ninja Tune's North American headquarters is based there he'd spent a lot of time soaking in the culture and summer sunshine of the city, never once thinking that he'd never actually visited during the winter... So somewhere around the time he felt the sensation of his nose hairs freezing for the first time, he settled into his new studio armed with a fresh set-up and an A La Carte Express menu by his side (Montreal's bible of food for shut-ins) to put the finishing touches on 'Out From Out Where'. This was the logical conclusion of what the previous records had hinted at. It was a cohesive and banging record, but one with no obvious reference points. It just sounded like Amon Tobin, and Amon (more so than a lot of artists) can actually say his sound is very much recognizable as his own. The accompanying tour for this album also resulted in Amon's entry into the Solid Steel mix series, with a tough ass Final Scratch DJ set captured in Australia released in June 04.

In 2004 video game developers Ubisoft decided to approach Amon to compose all the music for the 3rd installment of their enormously popular Splinter Cell series. Seeing as he wasn’t able to get past the second level of Splinter Cell 1, he thought that making the soundtrack would clearly be an easier way to interact with this game. This was a chance for Amon to experiment with different ways of composing and to finally realize a teenage ambition (although the soundtrack in no way reflected his love for Galaga…even though that was a hot game). Also composing a proper soundtrack allowed him to be a little more progressively excessive, with the inclusion of extended string arrangements and over the top Hammond organ solos woven into his sounds. Like Italian prog sensation Goblin composing for a Bond film would be an apt comparison for this work. A love of soundtracks has always been a key influence in his work, and it clearly showed here. The game was released in March 05. An accompanying soundtrack on Ninja Tune was released soon after on CD/LP/ and 5.1 DVD-Audio. The surround element was pushed even further on the handful of live dates he did for this release. The thing about an Amon show is that you could always escape the immense volume by going to the back of the room... in surround there is no es