By Chris Meyer

Electronic composer/pioneer Amon Tobin has come a long way since debuting Adventures in Foam under his original moniker Cujo in 1996.  To pigeonhole Tobin into a specific category, such as drum n’ bass or dubstep, is to do him a complete disservice. This sentiment rings most true since the release of 2007’s Foley Room, and even more so since 2011’s ISAM (Invented Sounds Applied to Music).  With these past two albums, we see Tobin applying the use of field recordings to create what we hear, straying from the use of pre-recorded samples and breaks.  He has quite literally gone from sample-based hip-hop to something completely experimental, creating a sound that is wholly new, unique and different.

With the ISAM 2.0 Live shows, Tobin collaborated with world renowned visual arts and production companies V-Squared Labs, Vita Motus Designs, Leviathan and Blasthaus to create a stage setup that creates this cinema-like experience.  This creation sees Tobin in a control center in the middle of a 3-D, cubed honeycomb.  Real time projection mapping, generative imagery and audio-reactive elements are all controlled by Tobin as he sets out to create an audio-visual movie night after night, in which seemingly nothing should ever change (if he is on point).

On Friday night at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC, fans were mesmerized by the ISAM 2.0 experience.  This show lends itself perfectly to the confines of a traditional theatre with balconies and seats.  This isn’t your ordinary EDM show; not a body was moving in the crowd, as all eyes were dead set on watching every image that was being put forth from the projection screens.  At times it was as if you could feel yourself being a part of The Matrix; living in a future overwrought by technological advances, and straying completely from all that is organic and natural.

Sitting back and simply viewing the show with mouths agape, during “Bedtime Stories” we were taken into outer space, as if we were travelling through the constellations, with geometric shapes and patterns running amuck.  “Piece of Paper” is a journey through an industrial press machine, with the screwing and unscrewing of nuts and bolts as we advance to a state of reliance on technology.  “Lost and Found” has these bright hues of orange, yellows, and reds that feel as if the screen is pulsating heat out to the audience.  We experience this ominous foreboding of something bigger, greater, and darker right on the ever-present horizon waiting for the human race to catch up to its own demise during “Dropped from the Sky”.

For anyone that has not seen this show, what are you waiting for?  For anyone that thinks they are going to dance their ass off during the show; think again.  This is a show that you should expect to stay seated for, as this is something that needs to be truly appreciated, and you can’t do that when you have your eyes closed as you are slamming your head from side to side.  Believe me, in this case it is OK to not dance; let your mind do the dancing for you.  There is a concept behind this experience that you don’t get at all of these other high-profile shows.  There is no live show that competes with the audio-visual artistry that is being delivered here.  The ISAM album is fully experimental, and does not confine itself to the general tones of EDM in its current state.  What Tobin has created, along with the help of the aforementioned production companies, is pure genius and has already gone down as groundbreaking, taking the next step in the live concert experience to boldly go….well, you know where.

On Saturday night, Tobin took a night off from the ISAM 2.0 show to put on a back-to-basics performance aboard the Rocks Off! Boat Cruise around Manhattan.  Concentrating on older material, as well as music from his forthcoming electro hip-hop album with UK-based producer Joe “Doubleclick” Chapman, under their alias Two Fingers, fans were treated to a stripped down set after the major production the previous evening.  Pure Filth and Jupiter supported Tobin on this three-plus hour tour around the city.  If you came to get down hard, this was the show for you.  It was quite the 180 from the ISAM show, as beats were much more danceable, and the overall vibe was loose.  But for most of us that went for this second, more intimate evening of Amon Tobin, that was exactly what we were expecting; and he delivered.

Overall, it was great to see two drastically different shows by such a brilliant artist in a matter of twenty-four hours.  Do yourselves a favor and go check out Amon Tobin; if you get the privilege to check out any ISAM 2.0 shows, just go.  Do not question whether you should go or not.  Just open your mind, and accept the fact that you will walk out of the show with your face fully melted.

The Two Fingers album is now available in vinyl format, with the digital version planned for a formal release date of October 8th.  But the vinyl here

Check out a video of the ISAM 2.0 Live show here:

Remaining ISAM 2.0 Tour Dates:

Sept 19 : Clemson (Brooks Center atClemsonUniversity)

Sept 20 :Atlanta(The Tabernacle)

Sept 21 : Orlando (House Of Blues)

Sept 22 :Miami(The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason)

Sept 24 :Dallas(The Palladium)

Sept 25 :Austin(Music Hall)

Sept 27 :San Diego(House Of Blues)

Oct 5 :Berkeley(Greek Theatre)

Oct 12 :Los Angeles(Greek Theatre