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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super
from readin some other feedback on this album (1 and 2 stars - really?) i had to put my opinion out here. i'm not one for writin reviews but this album is beautiful. i was expectin somethin almost completely abstract - its not - it is a logical step on from the foley room. if you were a fan of that then this will be good for you. it is so refreshin to hear an album be a...
Published on 21 Mar 2012 by J. R. Harper

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting sound design not enough melody
It's sad that the digital release of this was early due to the illegal free download some unsavoury sort made available. However, released early or not I have been left quite disappointed by 'Isam'.

Amon Tobin's previous solo albums were always an interesting mix of sound designs, effects, layers, distortions, differing paces and general rule bending that...
Published on 8 May 2011 by Mr. Gareth I. Davies


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super, 21 Mar 2012
By 
J. R. Harper "jim jams" (belfast) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: ISAM [VINYL] (Vinyl)
from readin some other feedback on this album (1 and 2 stars - really?) i had to put my opinion out here. i'm not one for writin reviews but this album is beautiful. i was expectin somethin almost completely abstract - its not - it is a logical step on from the foley room. if you were a fan of that then this will be good for you. it is so refreshin to hear an album be a series of pieces which form a whole. turn the lights down - maybe open a bottle and let it take you off on a wee journey :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing soundworlds, 30 May 2011
By 
F. W. Logan - See all my reviews
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This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
This album is so exciting to listen to. This is the kind of music I long for - music that is daring, alien and spectacularly detailed, but also funky and strangely human. If intricate sound design, strange and imaginative sonic worlds and a potent mixture of childish abandon and sinister mind-bending musical workouts sound like your kind of thing, I highly recommend this release. I don't know how long it must have taken Amon Tobin to create those patches/instruments and edit these tracks - but it sounds like it must have taken a very long time. The music does not sound laboured or overproduced, though, and it'll hit you hard whether you know what's going on on a technical level or not. And even though this material is futuristic and unusual, it is not particularly inaccessible. The sound is widescreen, mesmerising and bass -heavy, many of the tracks are surprisingly humorous and playful, and I see no reason why it couldn't attract those not usually accustomed to the more skitty and experimental ends of electronic music as well as fans of Autechre, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Plaid, Boards of Canada, Richard Devine, etc. An excellent and truly unique electronic album! Well done Amon Tobin for taking a risk.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting sound design not enough melody, 8 May 2011
By 
Mr. Gareth I. Davies "giddig" (Dudley, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: ISAM (MP3 Download)
It's sad that the digital release of this was early due to the illegal free download some unsavoury sort made available. However, released early or not I have been left quite disappointed by 'Isam'.

Amon Tobin's previous solo albums were always an interesting mix of sound designs, effects, layers, distortions, differing paces and general rule bending that pretty often produced melodies no other comparable artist could touch.

However, there was always that risk of pushing boundaries of listenable to just noise and coming out the winner. His most recent work as part of 'Two Fingers' was excellent too. Having to work as a team must have restrained him in the right way to produce their excellent debut album (the instrumental version is worth a listen).

For me Amon Tobin's best work has been a combination of rule bending ideas that tinker with sound design as an art-form and in the end produce some stunning melodies. When his work has gotten more involved in the sound design aspects and gone on the tangent of being pretty much just sound effects that only those in a very select crowd appreciate I don't like so much.

Sadly for me this album is mostly about the sound designs, emphasis placed heavily on stuttering, squelching sound effects with melodies being very well hidden or just not really there. I have no problem with this album being mostly slower paced work but the ratio of listenable work to noise just isn't high enough for me this time.

It's possible it just needs multiple listens to fully grow on me but I am right now on my third listen through it and each time I click play it's feeling increasingly like a bit of a chore to get to the end. Sorry.

If you are new to Amon Tobin's work this isn't the album to start with!

Note: It's currently £1 more on itunes for one extra bonus track however that 13th track doesn't really stand out as worth the extra quid.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dropped from the Sky, 23 May 2011
By 
M. J. Axtell "Jimmy Luxury" (Exeter) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
When Amon Tobin releases a new album I start to get a little excited. I don't know what it is about the man, he just manages to make consistently great albums, a rare thing for an artist 15 years into his career. A decade and a half has passed since Adventures in Foam, so can Amon still breathe new life into electronic music? Has the great innovator still go it? Yes, he is still the master innovator, but the rules have changed. Quite a lot.

Music he released 10-15 years ago is still being used in modern film and in that hour-long car commercial we love to watch on Sunday nights in Blighty (there is a cheeky nod to Top Gear in track 4). The sounds and techniques he develops now may not immediately have mass appeal, but they tend to mature over time. This album looks set to continue that trend. ISAM is a very futuristic album, one that may be a bit too ahead of it's time for many, but one that will stand the test of time like Supermodified and Out from Out Where. But unlike those albums, this album is the one that will test the fans.

Expecting the unexpected, the modus operandi of all Amon Tobin records, has become ironic in that his work is predictably unpredictable. So this album is business as usual, right? Sort of. This album seems to revel in being so different to his prior work that it seems to delight in building your expectations only to sweep the rug from under you. Out of all his work, this album mangles your expectations more than any other. But I guess we expected that. Frustrating as it first seems, I found the complexity to be mind boggling to the point where other records, his own included, seem basic by comparison.

But is this dashing of expectations a bad thing? I think not. It wouldn't be Tobin else. I can honestly put hand on heart and say I'm adoring this album. This is the densest, most complex music I have ever heard and confirms Amon Tobin as possibly the greatest sound designer in the world at the moment. After listening for the first time I just needed to sit and digest what I had just heard. This album does need your undivided attention to get the best from it. It's not a casual listen so set some time aside
Album track lengths vary between 2 and 7 minutes with the total run time coming in at just over 50 minutes, which I think is the perfect length for an album of this complexity. The album is closely affiliated to Saatchi Gallery artist Tessa Farmer and her 'Control Over Nature' installation. Amon goes on to say his music and Tessa's artwork go hand-in-hand as they both seek to re-order natural things. When I read this I couldn't help but think is this album a soundtrack to something else, like Taxidermia, or is this an out-and-out progression to Foley Room? It feels like a mixture of both, but we are way beyond those two albums now.

There are no words to describe ISAM so it's almost redundant for me to try, but if you can imagine Brian Eno, Vangelis, Thom Yorke, Autechre and a Disney best-of compilation record being blended together, you get halfway to the sound of this record. A poor description I know, but Amon Tobin has always occupied his own genre and this album sets to continue that trend. Melody is a key ingredient here, and Amon's musicianship has reached such a high standard that samples are no longer necessary and beat driven tracks have all but been phased out in favour of warped sound and twisted melody. He has purposely avoided using drums in this record, although he has fashioned found-sound samples, including his own voice and a creaky studio chair, into musical instruments. The result is both familiar and unfamiliar. The use of melody on tracks like Bedtime Stories have a wonderful innocence about them, only to have that innocence desecrated in the next four bars by jarring synths, glitchy 'percussion' and crunching bass, a reassuringly Tobin-esque trait. Foley Room, as much as I enjoyed it, seems like a warm-up compared to the sound Amon has generated to create this album. It is beautiful, melodic and complex, but jarring, meandering and frustrating in equal measure. Just when you think there should be a thunderous breakbeat coming in, nothing happens, but we'd be expecting that. There is so much going on at times, it sounds like each individual sound is trying to get your attention or trying to escape, like a fight for natural selection.

This album, more than ever before, truly feels like the album Tobin has been wanting to make for his entire career and the departure we all knew would come. It feels like we are getting closer to his musical psyche and I think this album could well be the biggest crossroads for his fans. ISAM is totally unrestrained and indulgent and tracks ooze with potential, but there are times where it feels like Amon needs reigning in and be reminded that humans will be listening to this album. Those people who live and breathe Autechre won't have a problem, but this is impenetrable music for someone looking to get into the electronic genre. Best not to start here, then. Try Supermodified instead.

ISAM lacks a distinct beat and rhythm, a hallmark of almost all AT albums, which could well be a problem for some fans. Those wanting jazz, drum and bass or a beat to nod their heads to could be disappointed, but that is not to say they definitely will be. Even 'Breaking Protocol', on his most recent release to date, sounds a world away from this. ISAM sounds very separate from Tobin's prior work as it feels like an album as a whole rather than a collection of tracks. It was easy to make a compilation album of tracks from his first 4 albums, but to listen to a track from ISAM next to anything else almost seems wrong. Times have changed, Amon has changed, and for his music to go in this new direction, a decade and a half into his career, is very exciting.

For his long-time fans, this album is going to feel different, even for a Tobin record. But fear not, if you're missing the beats, there's more Two Fingers material on the way. Anyone who bought the Ninja Tune XX album will have heard Fools Rhythm and will know Amon hasn't given the beats up just yet.

But right now I am loving ISAM. It sounds like nothing else, and after listening to it repeatedly for the last few weeks I am still finding it hard to fathom. Roll on the next 15 years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amon Tobin hasnt produced a bad album yet, 14 Jun 2011
This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
A new Amon Tobin album is always more than welcome in my home. ISAM is Tobin's new album, and it's as distinctive as all his previous albums.

Tobin's music has changed a lot since the original albums that made his name, 'Bricolage', 'Permutation' and 'Supermodified', which were sample-based musical constructions. Tobin slowly moved away from pre-recorded source material to creating his own original sounds from field recordings, experimenting on albums such as his 'Splinter Cell 3 Soundtrack' and the 'Foley room'.

ISAM is a fractured, synthetic ecosystem. Track 3, 'Goto 10', is the centrepiece on ISAM. Snippets of sounds fly around, attacking and competing against each other until Tobin introduces a warping percussive wall of sound. A sense of rhythm is slowly unlocked with aggressive waves upon waves of towering bass, everything combining to assert themselves but continually deconstructed until a structure finally carries the track to a blistering conclusion.

'Goto 10' makes you feel optimistic about the potential of musicians to come up with new, original ways of expressing themselves. Other fine tracks include 'Lost and found', which gives itself room to breathe and slowly unravel itself with sounds of mutating radio waves, samples sped up and then rewound back over fluttering guitars and serene choir-like voices.

There's a more playful, almost child-like charm to the second half of the album on tracks such as 'Wooden toy', 'Bedtime stories' and 'Kitty cat', but i don't think these tracks quite work in relation to the rest of the tracks on the album. The dreamy but nightmarish `Dropped From The Sky' concludes the album, a combination of many of the musical experimentations already heard and a fitting conclusion.

Tobin's splintered aesthetic owes much to the work of electronic overlords Autechre, and also Richard Devine's warped cinematic horror. As such, you couldn't call it a style of his own, there are too many comparisons, but it is not to suggest that this is a bad thing. At its best, ISAM enters the realms of pure abstraction without losing its sense of purpose and direction, exemplified by the breathtaking 'Goto 10'.

It seems clear that Tobin's new musical aesthetic is still a work in progress, he is constantly pushing the boundaries and there is plenty of invention and adventure on ISAM to keep many people happy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Musician / Soundsmith, 24 Feb 2014
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This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
This is the second of Amon Tobin's album's I've listened to - Foley Room was the other but in the end this was the one that I found worth buying.

I mention Foley Room because I describe Amon Tobin as a soundsmith as well as a musician and the comparison with foley is appropriate.

That's not to say ISAM is not musical - it absolutely is - but have a listen to the preview of the track Surge and you'll get what I mean.

Thoroughly recommended, if you like your electronic music seriously clever and quite lighthearted.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb submersion into the obscure, 23 Jan 2012
This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
This is possibly the most exploratory album I have heard in 2011 I brought the book edition and along side the fantastic models the tracks are fantastic. A stand out album from the master of foley, looking forward to the new box set too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy alien music... Great!, 24 Sep 2011
This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
Don't really need to be writing this... Most people considering to buy this CD will already know what to expect or will at least be able to look up album snippets elsewhere. This album is electronic music at its most daring and challenging. In places it truly sounds like music of the future from some distant, otherworldly species. Not overly familiar with Tobin's other material, but so glad I bought this. If you like this or if it is a little 'too much' for you, check out BT's 'This Binary Universe', for me these albums share a common feeling - though BT's creation is more melodic and soothing... like the aliens were on a much more chilled tip 10 years or so ago ;)
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars amon what have you done?, 26 May 2011
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This review is from: ISAM (Audio CD)
I really like Amon Tobin's work.
Supermodified is one of my all time favourite albums. I think Out From Out Where is fantastic.
Permitation, Bricolage, the Splinter Cell one and to a lesser extent Foley Room, but with that said, i could appreciate that Amon was taking a different turn in finding and sourcing original sound samples frequently from within nature, as apposed to samples found within previously existing music. I liked the Two Fingers Album.
But Amon what is this? this is just awful. If i was a music teacher at school for infants lets say 6 to 7 years old
and asked them to recreate a 'snowy day' on musical instruments this is what i would expect. It's just banal noise, maybe He'll do a live version, like what was done with Foley Room a nice free download which made sense of that album. I really wanted to like this.......But i don't
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ISAM by Amon Tobin
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