Amon Tobin
ISAM


4.5
superb

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (103 Reviews)
May 27th, 2011 | 78 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A love letter to the machine and the imagination.

I'm a junkie. I'm a junkie slowly decomposing from the despair of needing something I haven't been able to find. Hundreds upon hundreds of songs fought through by the week, only to yield nothing but maybe a fleeting glimpse of what I'm so desperately in search of. "Beauty can be found in everything", someone once told me... evidently the idea of universal beauty is true but it seems only temporarily.

It's been two years now.

I was 1 minute and 12 seconds into "Calculate" when it hit me, that warm rush that steals you from your body and leaves you there, drifting. The feeling of peace that knocks you down and smothers you as you smile, silently urging it to press harder. The fact that electronic bleeps, chimes, rattles and horns can have an effect like this (hell, the fact that any sound can have an effect like this) is a mystery. Personally, I'd like it to remain so.

The fantastic thing about electronic music is that it has no agenda, the composer sits at their computer and creates whatever they want without the fear of having to present themselves through lyrics. There isn't a chance to judge the person, only the music and it's a more pure relationship because of this. With electronic music, or indeed any music without lyrics be it classical, jazz or whatever, you are not interpreting the words but instead you are interpreting the emotion and feel of the music itself. Amon Tobin invites this beautifully, creating something that takes time to properly understand, as a result ISAM will mean something different to everyone.

To deviate from this late-night love letter to the partnership between the machine and the imagination, Amon Tobin's experimental nature is something that really shines through to give this album an edge. He's continued the trend from his previous album of collecting a huge variety of unique and often quirky samples that, in a logical world, should not sound as good as he makes them. The first-bite-of-an-apple crunch in "Lost & Found" for instance, which makes up the majority of the percussion, or the sci-fi lazer sounds that end "Morning Ms Candis" do not seem out of place before you start looking for them, which is what I think is most astonishing. Most of the samples he collects are organic and familiar, with crickets and flicks of paper, and the contrast this creates to the industrial sounds he pairs them with results in one of the more unique sounds music has introduced to us.

ISAM has it's highs and lows just like every other album, but I have a feeling that they will be different depending on the individual. What you take from this music is entirely up to you. I just know that I see Amon Tobin creating order from chaos and the sense of relief in the lulls between. At times it sounds like a reserved celebration, but then there's a hint of desperation in "One Last Look" and a flash of something verging on anger in "Goto 10". Sometimes it suffers from some bumps in the flow with the contrast between songs often being too sudden, but for the most part this can be forgiven for an album that's one of the stand outs of the past 5 years.



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user ratings (136)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Deviant STAFF (4)
Tobin takes the sprawling nature of 2007's Foley Room and puts a leash on it...


Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wrote this last night, not too sure what to think of it now.

The review, not the music. The music's still awesome.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow, I usually expect only one or two comments but I don't think I've ever had none before.

JustJoe
May 27th 2011


1399 Comments


First step is admittance.






I'm hooked.

lancebramsay
May 27th 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It is good, the review that is. Pos

Remove the last paragraph though.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 27th 2011


31353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The fantastic thing about electronic music is that it has no agenda, the composer sits at their computer and creates whatever they want without the fear of having to present themselves through lyrics. There isn't a chance to judge the person, only the music and it's a more pure relationship because of this. With electronic music, or indeed any music without lyrics be it classical, jazz or whatever, you are not interpreting the words but instead you are interpreting the emotion and feel of the music itself.


If there's some kind of emotion in the music that makes you feel "something" when you hear it, then there's an agenda.

This is nice and all, but it's very vague

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

Zettel
May 28th 2011


599 Comments


All I know is that this is the best rush I've had since first hearing Jupiter by Gustav Holst and that was 3 years ago


What a statement. Makes me wonder what you have been listening to all these years...

Review is nice, but you should not acknowledge your more-than-obvious flaws in the closing lines, and say that you do not care. Come on.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Heh, I'll cut off the last paragraph then.

@Zettle: Aphex Twin, Boc, the whole bloody genre of electronica, The Antlers, the whole of 90's indie, tried getting into hip-hop/rap (didn't work), tried getting into metal (didn't work apart from prog-metal), most alt-indie of the past 5 years, emo (that was a bit of a low point), a lot of folk etc etc.

Lots basically (:

@Deviant: I wouldn't say so. There's a difference between going in to create something you think is beautiful and going in to create something that is about something beautiful. I'd say Radiohead blur the boundary a bit but only because sometimes Yorke's voice is used more as an instrument.

Also, lyrics can ruin otherwise good albums. For me I'd say that James Blake's self-titled album suffers from this.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2011


31353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Zettle: Aphex Twin, Boc, the whole bloody genre of electronica,


For the last time, it is not a genre

@Deviant: I wouldn't say so. There's a difference between going in to create something you think is beautiful and going in to create something that is about something beautiful. I'd say Radiohead blur the boundary a bit but only because sometimes Yorke's voice is used more as an instrument.


Yes, but if when you're listening to something and it makes you feel whatever, that's normally on purpose

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nope but it's a label and that's good enough.

Sure it's on purpose, but we're talking something a lot more simple than when you bring words into the equation.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2011


31353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Actually I would've thought bringing words into the equation would make something a whole lot simpler

I just think it's a little ignorant to state that electronic music (or any music for that matter) has no agenda. Everything has an agenda, whether it's something as simple as to make you want to dance

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How get you get any simpler than an emotion or a feeling?

Anyway, I can see what you're saying but just can't say I agree with it, enough butting heads or do you want to go on? :/

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pos'd it
Great read; I like how it's relatively short and still gets it point across: job well done.

Digging: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2011


31353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't say we're butting heads at all. You have an opinion and I have mine and we're discussing it

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm just very aware that it's on the edge of descending into

" "yes it is"

"no it isn't"

"yes, it is"

"no, it really isn't"

* Stranger goes off in a huff* "


StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And who did the track listing for this? It's missing the last two songs (which are two of the best). To the edit place!

Tyrael
May 28th 2011


20893 Comments


Nice review, although I am clearly not feeling the things you feel when listening to this, or other 'electronic music' '(god I hate that term) for that matter.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just this, I've realised I completely forgot to write the paragraph explaining that (I have excuses, don't worry ;) ) so I'll write that a bit later since I have to prepare to fail some exam first.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2011


31353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm just very aware that it's on the edge of descending into

" "yes it is"

"no it isn't"

"yes, it is"

"no, it really isn't"

* Stranger goes off in a huff* "


Only if one of us let it

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2011


31353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

or other 'electronic music' '(god I hate that term) for that matter.


What the hell are you on about?


Tyrael
May 28th 2011


20893 Comments


I just don't like that term, that's all.



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