Amon Tobin / Meta4 Collective Commodore, Vancouver BC - June 20, 2003

At this Vancouver International Jazz Festival show, Amon Tobin demonstrated that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, while the Meta4 Collective proved otherwise. A bar of light pulsed up and down the transparent screen in front of Tobin as he started his live set with hints of Out From Out Where's "Verbal." With two large square video screens — one behind him and one in front of him — Tobin avoided being a DJ god and instead was a composing wizard. At his most mesmerising moments, samples and beats fused to form an organic whole that led listeners into another world, and at his least mesmerising moments it sounded like drum & bass lite, with super-fast chest-high beats and a calorie-reduced bass that prompted awkward dancing. After the shortest break ever, a humble Tobin matched drum & bass beats with metal guitar riffs for his encore and cracked up behind his laptop and decks while some of the crowd rocked out. Eikon Visuals' repetitive, mostly black and white images entranced with projections of scientists, experiment results and nuts and bolts. As for the Meta4 Collective, the combined effort of seven talented Vancouverites was mostly disappointing. J. P. Carter's electronically distorted trumpet was compelling but their overall sound was too often a swampy mishmash of grooves, samples, scratching, violin, tablas and bongos. Kia Kadiri and Jacob Cino provided vocals for some of the songs, but Kadiri's high-voltage energy didn't aid or abet the laidback vibe of the group. Although individually the group members are rich in talent, the collective cocktail was less than intoxicating.