Amon Tobin

The Foley Room

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Perhaps tiring of the invisible soundtracks playing in his head, Amon Tobin delivered a video-game soundtrack Chaos Theory: Splinter Cell 3 in 2005 and then hit the streets and studios, with microphones in tow, to produce 2007's Foley Room, an exercise in "field" recording. ("Foley rooms" are, apparently, the sound-effects chambers used by those in film.) Of course, anyone expecting crickets and hollers will be on unfamiliar ground, but those who are already aware of Tobin's penchant for spacious productions and sounds previously unheard in nature will know exactly what to expect. His stated aim here was to bridge the divide "between music that was based purely on sound design and tunes that were written to physically move people." But that's nothing new for him -- since the beginning of his career, he's been one of the best producers at manipulating found sounds into more-or-less danceable songs. Helping him on his quest is a large cast of collaborators, including Kronos Quartet, harpist Sarah Page, and Stefan Schneider of Music A.M. and To Rococo Rot. The music is suitably impressive, and shows -- as it should -- a far wider range of moods and textures than Tobin's work in the past. With good reason, the most adventurous tracks here ("Horsefish" and "Big Furry Head") are also the best, showing Tobin stretching himself beyond the usual electronica brainmelt into more progressive territory.