Supermodified

Released

You can find all kinds of stylistic through-lines in the first four albums Amon Tobin cut for Ninja Tune between 1997 and 2002, but the most often-cited and characteristic one — his resculpting of drum’n’bass tropes into a mutant jazz that hits square in the Venn overlap of beautiful and unnerving — hit its highest point of a well-sustained peak here. All you have to do to really shake the stiffness out of your brain is follow along to what he does with the drums on Supermodified — sustaining grooves no matter how maniacally and uncontrollably the rolls and crashes boil over (as opener “Get Your Snack On” establishes right out of the gate). That he does so in the service of some drastically varying moods is key: “Golfer Vrs Boxer” hits you with a wall of in-the-bloody-red blast-beat noise overload one moment, only for “Deo” to find menace and tension in downtempo orchestral fusion the next. And the way that these moods can turn on a dime is even more of a thrill; check the way “Chocolate Lovely” feints towards mellow orchestral lounge-jazz reverie before it builds to a clattering percussive explosion Buddy Rich would marvel at.

Nate Patrin

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