Exit Music Review SectionMusic Review Navigation Menu
Out From Out Where

Amon Tobin
Out From Out Where
(Ninja Tune)

When I first heard Amon Tobin, I freaked out. It wasn't as if I hadn't heard precision-cut breakbeats or anything like that, but there was something about the efficiency with which he did his craft that made my head spin. While there are certainly plenty of laptop jockeys cranking their drum machines up to 300 bpm and chugging out hyperactive beats, Tobin always seemed to have a knack of putting every little piece of the puzzle in just about the right place to cause maximum mindblowing-ness. In regards to that alone, Out From Out Where is no different. He cuts and pastes with master precision, spitting sounds out in a manner that sounds frantic and somehow scalpel-precise at the same time.

Like last years Supermodified release, though, Out From Out Where finds him expanding his palette even more, ever-how-slightly it may be. His massive tracks still have plenty of Brazillian music influence, and they're still heavily steeped in cinematic stew, but he also seems more content than ever to slow things down a bit more. There's still a bit of the hyperkinetic programming that most people associate with his name, but overall this is probably his most varied release yet.

"Back From Space" opens up the release in grand style, with an absolutely smoldering track that builds from intertwining piano and chime melodies until splitting at the seams with thick, growling keyboard rumbles and spitfire beat programming. What's most interesting about the track is how long it takes in reaching the loud finale, teasing with pieces of the track until it finally all comes together in a mass of sound about two-thirds of the way through. On the aptly-titled "Verbal," Tobin teams up with MC Decimal R. for his first true vocal track, and in true form absolutely chops the hell out of it, leaving the vocals as sort of a herky jerky, Prefuse 73-style cut-up that still manages to have a funky flow.

After the overlong "Chronic Tronic," the album glides back into great form on "Searchers," a murky, Middle-Eastern flavored track that oozes with Tobin's trademark thickness and layers strings, horns, tribal beats, and lyric-less vocals into a lumbering beast without ever cranking up the BPM. Likewise, "Hey Blondie" is content to shake and jive through a mid-tempo burnt-out jazz shuffle while "Rosies" augments another molasses-thick beat with little bursts of laser-guided blips.

Those looking for another release packed to the gills with frenetic beat programming may be a little disappointed with Out From Out Where (although "Triple Science" provides a heart-quickening blast), but there's are still plenty of great moments on the release. In fact, it closes out with two of the better tracks that Tobin has ever done. "Proper Hoodidge" rolls like in-step sequel to "Four Ton Mantis," while "Mighty Micro People" closes out the album with a delightfully delicate (relatively speaking) track that drapes multiple layers of what sounds like harps over one another and a nice low-end groove. While there are a couple tracks that arrive in the middle section of the disc that sag a bit, it's by no means a letdown (unless you're expecting the same-old, same-old).

Rating: 7.75