Published May 01, 2000"I'm quite into doing the occasional odd collaboration," laughs producer Amon Tobin. "But I'm not particularly into doing a whole band set up." Truthfully, he has no need. Armed with just a sampler, turntable, sequencer and his own vivid imagination, Tobin has created a number of textured and original albums filled with dense layers of sound and highly distinctive, heavily cut-up percussion and breaks.
His latest for Ninja Tune, Supermodified, sees the Brazilian-born, UK-based Tobin magnificently honing his skills. It also offers the proverbial "odd" collaboration in the form of "Precursor," on which Montreal "velocity beat-box" artist Lateef (a.k.a. Quadraceptor) drops his high-speed, animals-in-a-rainforest mouth sounds over Tobin's crazed beats and bass. "Lateef is someone I'd want to do more stuff with, because he's got a different sound for percussion that fit really nicely with what I was trying to do on this record," shares Tobin. "He works fast; he's about 180 bpm, and he does everything with his mouth, which is wicked. I thought it would be really interesting to try and do something with fast breaks chopped up and put through a lot of different processes."
"Chopping" is a key word for this soft-spoken wiz. Thing is, Tobin's is no simple slicing and dicing. The man makes purée that consistently leaves listeners begging for the recipe. "I do chop things up very, very fine," he grins in agreement. "Because the more pieces you make, the more control you ultimately have. It's laborious, but it's about making something your own. The finer you chop, the more diverse you can be and the more command you ultimately have of the sound."
He truly has a brilliant mind, this magical, musical chef, with an imagination oft sparked by hearing elements in notes, phrases, beats and bits that would simply pass most others by. "I'm into sourcing samples from a particular place - using something that's worked in a different environment before. I prefer that to plucking something out of the air, because it's then had a previous life, and it keeps some of that energy." Supermodified indeed.