After I saw the trailer for Amon Tobin’s worldwide ISAM (Ver. 2.0) live tour, I knew this was an opportunity to be challenged, engaged and amazed as a live music attendee. It was apparent this was going to be less of a typical concert or show, and more of an ambitiously crafted audio/visual experience that would engage and stimulate my senses. But let’s start from the beginning…
Besides the fact that this show promised to be utterly fantastic by itself, I was excited that Holy Other would be opening. I arrived at the venue to see the producer shrouded by darkness minus a single green light shining over him and his equipment. Oozing from the speakers were relaxed, bass-heavy ambient electronic beats with sensual R&B-esque vocals, emitting a backdrop for late night vibes. The generous use of reverb in his production added to the spatiality and the dreamy nature of the music. Songs like “Touch” and “Know Where” were two such chilled out pieces that I was very glad to hear. Holy Other’s music is relatively tranquil and it was kind of difficult to tell if the crowd was enjoying it as much as I was. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard music that “slow” at a show and as an opener no less. It was quite interesting (and I’m sure intentional) to juxtapose a minimalistic set (in terms of audial complexity and visual dynamism) with the maximalist set to come.
Building up to the main event, ambient sounds were played until the curtains were drawn and the stunning 25′ x 14′ x 8′ multi-dimensional 3-D art installation was unveiled. This installation took up the entire stage of the venue, and everyone was anxious to undertake the fantastic audio/visual journey by Amon Tobin and his talented crew.
Amon went on to play, manipulate and orchestrate his newest album ISAM in its entirety. As time has gone on, Amon has evolved his music from electro-breakbeat, jazz to edgy video game/film scores to his current offering of innovate, futuristic, and experimental electronic soundscapes. To tell the truth, it’s kind of difficult to describe this audio/visual experience, as it seemed to have a life of its own. Often, what was heard would not be considered to be music by many, as the electronic atmosphere would evolve and morph – an organized chaos of mechanical & industrial noises, spacey melodies and electro-organic essences, incorporating elements of experimental electronica, dubstep and downtempo. While one is trying to comprehend what their ears are hearing, a mind-blowing visual display of stellar graphics, futuristic imagery and psychedelic asymmetry is perfectly synced to the music.
In the center of the installation, Amon was appropriately dressed in an astronaut’s suit. He brought this creature to life. The sound system would growl and you’d feel the bass in your chest. Pristine melodies would sing and swirl into your ears. The 3-D nature of the installation was entrancing, immersing the audience into some of the spectacular scenarios only slightly captured by the pictures I was able to take below (check out the trailer for better representation).
As Amon stepped out from his command center in the heart of his breathtaking display, the crowd was audibly pleased with what had just been experienced. As an extended reward, Amon performed two encores, which drew upon material prior to ISAM and were distinctly more “musical.” His first set was comprised of edgy, drum and bass while incorporating low-end breaks, which fueled the crowd to get crazy and dance. Meanwhile his second encore set, was more of a throwback to his earlier days of jazzy, experimental downtempo. Overall it was a chill way to wind down from the previous charged set and the overall maximalist main event, which had transpired just a short time ago.
Amon Tobin and his visual crew have pioneered the future of live music experiences, and I’m extremely glad to have made it out. I can’t wait for ISAM (Ver 3.0) and beyond.
– Submitted by Jesse Nathason, Music Design