On Saturday night in Chicago, Ninja Tune sample wizard Amon Tobin took the stage at Metro to a fairly packed audience ready to get down. Fans expecting exact live replicas of his vast catalogue of work, however, were in the wrong place. The Brazil-born DJ, whose set didn’t start until nearly 1 am, spent much of his time in front of the crowd intertwining cuts to create mixtures more befitting a pure dance club. The result was a thundering jumble of drum and bass, electro-dance, and overlapped ambience.
Tobin’s set fluctuated between rapid-fire breaks and head-nodding rhythms, but unfortunately was light on the sampled instrumentation that made 2000’s Supermodified a classic or March’s Foley Room one of his most balanced works of melody and atmosphere.
Though the evening was full of the sci-fi sounds that typify his style, it would have been nice had the slow-building, harp-based intro and subsequent reverberated guitar line from Foley Room’s “Horsefish” been a portent of things to come. Instead, Tobin often incorporated fragments of his recorded material, like the finely diced vocals of MC Decimal R on Out From Out Where’s “Verbal,” to concoct alternate arrangements.
With that said, the veteran DJ is one of the finest in his field at piecing together thoroughly layered, abstract samples and turning them into movement-inducing works. If you’re looking for noise-heavy IDM that doesn’t lack structure, it’s wise to catch Tobin in action.
— Scott Morrow