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Concert Fri Oct 21 2011

Preview: Amon Tobin @ Congress Theatre, 10/21

ISAM live image courtesy of Amon Tobin

Amon Tobin has a great name for a noir detective. In some alternate reality he's a superstar gumshoe who finds lost kids and protects New Orleans' eccentric family secrets. In our reality he's a sleuth of sound. Since his premier under the name Cujo in 1995 he's been known for possessing an uncanny sense of finding the best parts of forgotten records. Amon Tobin has become a post-modernist sound hero. He reclaims discarded pieces of sonic art and revitalizes them. In the past Amon has relied on a traditional DJ approach to present his music. For the ISAM show tonight at the Congress Theater, an army of mixed media artists have been brought into the fold to create an interactive museum-grade installation on par with the bombast of Daft Punk's rave pyramid or Deadmau5's ecstasy Rubik's cube.

'ISAM' - Full album with track-by-track commentary from Amon Tobin by Amon Tobin

Amon Tobin's most recent album ISAM is a reboot of his sound. Gone are the crackle and pop of the sample-based brilliance that previously made his sonic backbone. Replacing them is a gleaming electro exploration of intricately diced micro-samples and self made field recordings. Amon Tobin is no longer content to sample single notes, his scope is deep in the microverse of sound. In past records he would grab a fifty-cent bin boom bap kick and move on. He combines samples from a disparate sources as nails on a bathtub, improperly recorded street musicians, and medical centrifuges then squeezes them through a room filling mainframe of computing. In rockist terms he's gone prog. What comes out the speakers is an otherworldly sound that is part slick futurism, part sugar crazed child dream. These are the soundtracks those nights spent asking yourself "Do robotic cats know how to love?"

The presentation begins with a series of sculptures of part-PBS' Nova part-Dragonlance lanscapes by artist Tessa Farmer. For the ISAM project she created the sculptures in response to Amon Tobin's songs that became the artwork for the album. The pieces are full of wonder as insects and miniature fairies battle over a landscape of reclaimed nature. In one a fox's ribcage is hallowed out and extended to become a base of operations for the fairy high command. The work captures your childhood imagination where everything was more than it seemed. Tessa Farmer is currently touring the pieces around as an installation with audio from ISAM that unfortunately we won't get a chance to see in Chicago on this tour stop. The ISAM website has a gallery of her photos that are worth checking out.

What we'll be seeing tonight at Congress Theatre is a of 1970s space retro-futurism psychadelica unfolding. The most gee-wizz Fantastic Four science project is the cascading 8-bit NES cube stage design by Alex Lazarus, and Heather Shaw of Vita Mortis Design. Mapped on top are interactive 3-D projections by V Squared Labs and Chicago's Leviathan. Using the same Microsoft Kinekt camera on your X-Box Amon Tobin can interact with the visuals while mutating new permutations of his songs with a Haken Continum -- a series of sensors on a neoprene slab that respond to tactile pressure and map hand positions in a 3-D environment. This is all really nerdy talk to cover up that Amon Tobin will be waving his hands like a wizard while his music grabs your butt and your eyes get trapped in a laser show beyond the dreams of your stoner chemistry teacher.

A documentary on the making of ISAM

Amon Tobin plays at Congress Theatre on Friday October 21, 2011 at 8pm (17+). Emika and Lorn open. The show is sold out. Congress Theatre is located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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