Published Apr 23, 2019Amon Tobin's albums have always had a mystical quality to them. Early records like Bricolage and Permutation, while offering up chunky slabs of jazz 'n' bass, still had reams of nostalgia strewn throughout. As those heavier elements gave way to tingling cascades of sound on later releases, such as Foley Room, the proceedings got more reflective still. Now, as Fear in a Handful of Dust breaks an eight-year silence for the Brazilian-born producer, we've arrived at his most wistful work to date.
There's a very loose and purposefully flawed feel to this record. After aiming for tediously technical goals with his preceding album Isam, Tobin couldn't help but take a more untethered approach on his return. As a result, Fear in a Handful of Dust ambles through the woods in anything but a straight line. "On a Hilltop Sat the Moon" is a near-perfect opener, in that it sucks you into its weird world after the first few gurgling notes. After that, you're consistently hypnotized by tracks like "Vipers Follow You," which sounds like a mariachi band coaxing a machine into life, and the endless digital freefall of "Velvet Owl."
Fear in a Handful of Dust might just be the best sonic definition for imperfect beauty we've got right now. Luckily, with the recent formation of Tobin's new label, Nomark, it looks like we'll be waiting far less than eight years for the next body of work. (Nomark)