It’s near impossible to attach a genre to Brazilian born electronic producer and DJ, Amon Tobin’s seventh full-length album ISAM. If forced to pin any kind of label to it, you could argue the record slants in an experimental electro-jazz direction in both its composition and fluidity of pace. This fact made it challenging to listen to it in its entirety without skipping ahead midway through each song, as it became obvious early into my listening that Tobin’s creations would more suitably fit as the backing soundtrack to an animated futurama film, than a strictly audio presentation. On that basis, it wasn’t surprising to learn that Tobin has enjoyed success writing musical scores for multiple video games.
Although the music of ISAM is excruciatingly intricate, layered with endless bleeps, blips, bloops, buzz and bubbles, the songs are highly forgettable, mainly due to their lack of any identifiable rhythm or melody. Of the 13 tracks, “Wooden Toy” was the one standout. Its ethereal “music-box-in-an-echo-chamber” atmosphere and other-worldly lyrics are quite magnificent. It’s proof that Tobin’s has serious talent and can write music of amazing complexity. That said, a record cannot soar on the merits of one strong song, cementing in my mind the need for visual accompaniment to make this style of music poignant.