Brazil’s Amon Tobin, like many of his countrymen, has rhythm embedded in his soul. His exposure to U.K. drum ‘n’ bass from the likes of Goldie and Grooverider added another perspective early on, allowing him an insight into a form of music constructed from sampled breakbeats, with swollen synth bass lines and frantic percussive elements. But unlike fellow Brazilians Marky and Patife, who adopted this as their genre of choice, Tobin adopted a different, unorthodox approach to making music.
So far, he’s released four full-lengths of twisted, delightfully cut-up, reconstructed jazz breaks, along with countless singles and remixes. Recorded Live is the fourth installment of the esteemed Solid Steel mix series, essentially modeled from the eclectic spirit and experimentation exhibited on the long-running radio show. Mixed using a program called Final Scratch, Tobin was able to access limitless files, re-edits and essentially anything he could fit on his laptop and control them from two coded pieces of vinyl that interface with the computer.
The result is an amalgamation of Tobin’s own edits; bottom-heavy, floor-destroying drum ‘n’ bass; abstract breaks; a dash of downtempo; and, lest things get too out there, a reworking of the Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs.” Rarely is one track playing at a time; rather, Tobin is in the mix constantly, layering one track over another and creating sonic collages out of breathtakingly complex tracks. Anyone who has taken to the decks before knows how much focus it takes to keep two tunes in the mix for an extended period, let alone tunes like these. It’s enough to make the average bedroom deejay’s head spin and give it up altogether.
With the exception of an edited-out Destiny’s Child track (they refused to clear their cameo), the mix was all done on the fly one night late last year in Melbourne. Recorded Live is an excellent overview not only into the mind of one of the most innovative electronic producers around, but also into the tunes that he finds inspiration in. But what’s most impressive is the deejay talent on display. It would have been perfectly acceptable to trigger a few samples from a laptop, as many artists who play “live” today do, but just like with his productions, Tobin saw fit to take things a step or two further. Bravo to that.