Amon Tobin's ISAM Live tour is some serious next level
This time around, Tobin's technological adventurousness is helping to pique new interests. The crowd at the Warfield was not composed of the typical intelligent dance music, underground glitch, and scruffy turntablism fans I know from previous Amon Tobin shows. Rather, the "oohs," "aahs," and "this is fucking amazings" were coming from what looked to be a distinctly tech crowd. With Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar, and countless other digital animation studios located in the Bay Area, is ISAM Live introducing a new wave on enthusiasts to somewhat challenging electronic music through geek-candy visual technology?
"Well, electronic music is inherently tech-y to begin with," Tobin says, "but even when I was just starting out, I was never interested in scenes. I'm too wrapped up in what I'm trying to do. I'm just hoping people will be into it, no matter who they are or how they got there."
Tobin's known for being laidback almost to the point of reclusivity, and his recent relocation to the Bay Area — "I live a little north of San Francisco, in the middle of the woods: I can walk around or go for a drive and do what I like" — has helped contribute to to both his secluded genius image and access to tech opportunity. Once he had the inspiration for ISAM Live, it wasn't like he put an ad out on Craisglist to find designers, he told me. But a serendipitous encounter with Lazarus and the ease of putting together an adventurous, California-based design team got things going pretty easily. It's also helped him firm up connections with local musicians he admires like SF's Kronos Quartet, who were featured on Foley Room and will open for his concert at the Greek, and incredible live-sample collagist Eskmo, who opened for him early in the ISAM tour.
But the mind of Amon Tobin is ever-restless, and ISAM has been around for more than as year — despite the 2.0 relaunch, our conversation perks up when we begin to talk about his new release as Two Fingers called Stunt Rhythms, a beats and bass album that also belies his claim not to make dance music.
"Stunt Rhythms is a tribute to the amazing electro and breakdance music that actually saved me, growing up in a shitty town called Hastings in England. Things like Cybotron's 'Clear' or Man Parrish, JVC Force's 'Strong Island.' My relationship to that sound is so deep. It's music that keeps me pushing for something further off, pushing me through drum and bass, and making my own persona.
"It's working my way toward that thing just over the horizon that keeps me going."
AMON TOBIN: ISAM LIVE 2.0
with Kronos Quartet and Holy Other
Fri/5, 8pm, $39.50
2001 Gayley Way, Berk.