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Amon Tobin ISAM Live 2.0 in Toronto
Photo by Andrew Dubinsky
Amon Tobin ISAM Live 2.0
Anyone with even mild curiosity in electronic music and multimedia innovation is already well aware of Amon Tobin’s groundbreaking ISAM Live enterprise. Unveiled in 2011 and blowing minds ever since, the digital projection-based show has proven to be peerless in the current performance landscape. The Brazilian-born and Montreal-based Ninja Tune vet, a longtime denizen of field recordings, has combined his hybrid production pastiche with cutting-edge video technology to create one of the most incredible sensory experiences ever to tour the world.
ISAM Live 2.0 launched this September, incorporating remixed audio material with a slew of new visual candy. Perched inside his cockpit at the center of the ample cubic structure the act is based around, Tobin knowingly simpered at the roar of an excited Toronto crowd Monday night. With the ability to have his surroundings transformed into virtually anything he desired, he must have felt invincible. Whether psychedelically-elevated (as many were) or simply trying to process the avalanche of aural stimulation pouring from the stage, the audience was in rhapsodic spirits as well.
“Piece Of Paper” was the first ISAM cut to really make an impact, its mega-machine mastication sending sonic blasts throughout the room. “Surge” came in updated form, remixed under Tobin’s beat-oriented alias Two Fingers, before the glowing embers of “Lost & Found” brought things down for a moody respite. The primary update from the original ISAM set was centered around an outer-space theme, with Tobin dressed in an astronaut suit (sans helmet) and cinematic views of his immense “space ship” from outside and in. Like a wayward –yet-unflinching traveler tumbling through the stratosphere, he appeared at once lost and completely in control.
“Kitty Cat” cranked up the weird factor, Tobin’s pre-recorded vocal samples twisted into female-like warbles. The atmospheric juxtaposition continued with the creepy music box strains of “Bedtime Stories,” and then the dense force of “Dropped From The Sky” closed the main set with powerful precision. The cordial producer/DJ was far from finished there, as a half-hour of brand new Two Fingers material was still on tap. More dance-friendly than the esoteric ISAM content, the lengthy “encore” was infused with a few classic Tobin tracks as the shell-shocked onlookers could finally make sense of the sounds coming at them and move their feet routinely.
Much can be said about the ISAM Live experience, but the concept of words not doing it justice is a colossal understatement. There is no doubt that Amon Tobin, with the help of many more skilled artists, has birthed an incomparable piece of art. The show is not to be missed, and indubitably not to be forgotten.
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