Video games can suck an afternoon away with the efficiency of a good vacuum cleaner, and there are documented cases of games inducing seizures on the frail youths that spend too much time in front of them. Games have become more hotly contested in recent years, their gratuitous violence becoming a topic of conversation amongst parents and the media. Amon Tobin’s Chaos Theory, the soundtrack for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory video game, might indeed contribute to unexplained seizures and gratuitous violence — even without any goddamned game.
Despite the many names in the liner notes, Tobin composed this album almost entirely by himself: the musicians listed, except for bass player Nacho Mendez, don’t exist. When I slipped the soundtrack into my CD player on Saturday night, shit got completely out of control. I had expected a night forging through forty-eight cold ones with some wuss-ass friends (one of whom threw a monkey-wrench into that plan by showing up with a bottle of absinthe — the genuine stuff, not some bullshit eBay bargain). By the time we got to the fourth track, “Kokubo Sosho Stealth,” we’d deaded the absinthe, the beer bottles were in the recycling bin and I’d eaten an entire jar of Vaseline.
The nightmarish breaks on “Kokubo” offer no kind of compassionate shoulder to cry on when you’re in the condition I was. Looming flutes and menacing percussion floats all over “Kokubo” while Tobin, a U.K.-via-Brazil deejay, drops in and out with piano and hellish melody that still visits me in my tortured sleep. Every time the breaks reemerged, it was as though something terrible, monstrous and Republican was just around the corner waiting to swallow me whole.
I can remember staring at the ceiling during frantic closer “The Clean Up” and pondering my decision to listen to an album specifically designed to lubricate the wheels of gratuitous violent imagery and the induction of seizures. After we trashed the furniture and tossed the kitchen table out the window, we broke into my neighbor’s place and ate his leftovers. My throat still slick from the Vaseline, everything went down as if it were coated with butter. My neighbor was pretty pissed, I think mostly because it looked like he and his wife were trying to sleep when we put Chaos Theory on in their bedroom. Yeah, we brought the Amon Tobin record with us. That shit’s coming everywhere with me from now on.