Amon Tobin Makes Electronics Sound Human on Figueroa's 'The World As We Know It'

BY Dylan KavalskyPublished Jul 31, 2020

Amon Tobin is a traveller, and not just because he's lived in a variety of countries across the globe. The music producer and composer has worked with electronics for over two decades to explore the possibilities of trip hop, IDM and more. Under the moniker Figueroa, he has released a new record called The World As We Know It, which marks his first expedition into the trippy forests of psychedelic folk. The Sylvia Massy-produced record is a superb addition to the genre. 

The acoustic guitar is a defining feature of the album's style, especially on songs like "Put Me Under" and the title track, where he shows off a speedy and mesmerizing finger-picking style. The bass guitar also shines thanks to earworm riffs on "Weather Girl" and "Back to the Stars. Many other instruments help shape this album, such as the drums, which create a sense of mysterious intensity on songs like "If You Knew My Name" and "Better Run."

Tobin also delivers beautifully harmonized vocals. His dreamy delivery reduce the impact of some of the lyrics by obscuring some of the words, but the tone also captures a level of eeriness and abstraction that mixes well with the album's instrumentation.

Even though Tobin uses an extremely wide range of sounds, the album never gets confusing, because every instrument seems purposeful and comes in at the right moment. It's easy to picture Tobin and Massy conducting seven musicians in a studio at once, but nothing like this ever happened. No musicians performed on this record — every sound was computer-generated, even the hand-muting on the acoustic guitars.

This album truly challenges the idea that electronic music will always lack a human element; machines can actually sound more human than the real thing when artists like Amon Tobin and Sylvia Massy are on the job.

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