Amon Tobin ISAM Live in Berlin
Last night eatmoreshoes had the honor of being invited to Amon Tobin’s show at the Astra in Berlin, Germany. Opening acts came from Delfonic (Oye Records), Emika (Ninja Tune / UK), Shuttle (Ninja Tune / USA), and The Bug (DJ-Set / Ninja Tune / UK). His ISAM project was the feature of the night, incorporating a giant cubic structure that took up the entire stage, each piece covered with a thin white sheet.
Across the crowded space a huge projector was setup, blasting the structure with colorful light, creating intense and alluring patterns that were programmed to fit the three-dimensional space perfectly. Video would appear to be layered on the angled walls of the structure so that the audience would be fooled into thinking it was moving skin on the structure, and not video at all. A mixture of technological and organic themes were presented in crisp detail and a wide palette of colors.
Amon sat inside one of the largest cubes in the structure, nearly in the center, surrounded by a slightly less opaque lining that allowed the crowd to see him at opportune moments during the performance. Whenever the light hit his chamber just right his bobbing head was visible, plastered with a boyish grin beneath his baseball cap.
Tobin mostly performed tracks from his new album, “ISAM (Control Over Nature)”, created in collaboration with Tessa Farmer, a sculpture artist focused on the use of organic materials. The music was made to deprive the senses, bringing the listener into disorienting situations, and describing the mechanical processes of the natural world.
Although Tobin ventured into uncharted territory with his new record, his style still reflects many aspects of his past releases: glitchy, technical textures laid on top of bass heavy melodies that change tempo frequently. To describe his music as experimental or raw would be a severe understatement. Near the end of his performance Tobin brought out some classics, including “4 Ton mantis” from his “Supermodified” album released in 2000.
Somewhere near the middle of the show a large abstract, pointy vessel appeared on the structure. Curious onlookers in the crowd made mention of it looking like insane 3D graffiti as it pulsed and twitched. An orange-yellow background came into focus and depicted a dusty landscape. Bright yellow neon lines danced across the figure as it rushed towards us and off of the structure. The laser-like entity moved and shifted as huge plumes of thick white smoke blasted into the landscape from all directions, perfectly on cue with the music.
One of the most impressive parts of the night was near the end, during Tobin’s last few songs, when the structure was projected with a stack of cubic blocks. The blocks assembled themselves and then blew apart into a crumbling fray, only to be rebuilt again. These sequences happened a few times before the song really began, pushing and pulling the blocks in a variety of directions and hinting at what was to come.
When the song finally came crashing in, the blocks began to rotate on their own individual axes creating an incredibly impressive visual effect. It appeared as though there was no longer a static structure at all, but one that moved and gyrated on it’s own. The blocks shifted and shook in place as a barrage of abstracted visuals came into focus.
Overall it was an amazing show, incredibly stimulating video that went perfectly with Amon Tobin’s glitchy, techinical style of music. Kudos to Amon Tobin and the whole team behind the effects, as well as Astra Berlin for housing the show! For those that missed out last night, the tour – which began in Montreal – continues to Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, and finally ends at the Roundhouse in London. Go grab tickets now before it’s too late!
written by Dylan Cromwell
videography by Raw Hedroom