Amon Tobin - Foley Room
Having constructed most of his previous work from vinyl samples, Amon Tobin wanted to find "real" live sounds for Foley Room. So he and his team went out and about to record everything from lions roaring and motorbikes revving to insects trapped in foil and the repetitive noise of machines. (The "making of" DVD supplied with the limited edition is thus a fascinating watch.) In addition, he enlisted the help of some proper musicians; Kronos Quartet perhaps being the best known.
A foley room is where sound effects are recorded for films, and, although Tobin has only so far composed a soundtrack for the third installment of "video game" Splinter Cell, it is apparent this is an area he’s interested in. Every track here is crying out to be set to a movie scene. Esther's one imagines playing over footage of tooled-up Hells Angels storming a posh do; Keep Your Distance seems similarly oriented towards hardware and menace; Big Furry Head utilises the aforementioned lion's roar, albeit in a context which makes it sound like a prowling monster from a sci-fi flick. There are quieter and less frightening moments (Horsefish employs an ethereal harp) and At The End Of The Day, with its grand strings, is surely the bit in a Bond film where 007 discovers the baddies' base.
Tobin frequently draws comparison with other electronic artists - from DJ Shadow (check the breaks towards the end of The Killer's Vanilla) to Squarepusher (this gets weird in places; Kitchen Sink might be akin to observing the titular object on acid). Unsurprisingly, Foley Room has the air of an experiment, even if it is an inspired one. Maybe that's why it’s ultimately easier to admire than embrace.