Amon Tobin Chaos Theory

Amon Tobin Chaos Theory
The Montreal-based trifecta of British beat bastion Ninja Tune, French videogame publisher Ubisoft and experimental Brazilian expat Amon Tobin have joined forces to soundtrack Ubi’s impending Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, a mega-anticipated sequel to the Tom Clancy game series. Working largely with heavily-tweaked acoustic samples, the album’s densely cinematic atmosphere, like the game’s graphics, is stridently dark, with ominous loops, cavernous bass and the occasional disembodied voice further upping the creep-out quotient. But it’s not all tense background music for the stealth scenes — there’s some tense foreground tracks as well, most notably "Displaced,” which brings in some Roni Size-sounding bass lines and skittery drum & bass beats. The junglisms come back even harder towards the end of closing cut "The Clean Up,” which starts off methodically slow before going epileptic in presumed anticipation of one of the game’s violent fight sequences. As Ninja’s historic 100th release, the album breaks Tobin’s far lengthier score into ten compressed and re-assembled compositions. While nothing here will stick in your head like, say, Super Mario, Tobin has gone beyond catchy melodies to raise the artistic bar on what game music is — and what it can be.

Why do a game soundtrack? There’s only a certain amount of people that are ever going to hear what I do. So if you’ve got something like a game which is going to reach millions of people, it’s a way to get my music exposed without having to compromise. I feel like I’m able to infiltrate — heh heh — a very big market and hopefully corrupt it along the way.

How do you approach a soundtrack vs. an album? It was a matter of making tracks that could be split into different layers and each would correspond to a different level of stress in the game. So you’ll be creeping around and might just hear strings and bass, then a guard spots you so the percussion gets layered on top and you’ll get full-on drums when you’re in a battle situation. The music is all the same as on the record, but you won’t hear the instruments in the same order. You could play the game in such a way that it matches up to the arrangement, in theory.

It must be hard scoring something that lasts so many hours. People are either going to want to kill me or buy my record. We’ll see how it goes when they’re stuck on level eight. (Ninja Tune)