Solid Steel Presents Recorded Live
Solid Steel / Ninja Tune
mon Tobin works best on record. Period. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the guy live and with his dark an’ crunchy breaks and beats slapping you upside the head in real time he’s pretty entertaining, but not so much so that he needed a live album.
At his peak (Supermodified and parts of Permutation and Out From Out Where) Tobin is simply unrivaled among creators of whatever this type of music is called this week. Live, he decomposes his incredible tracks into repeated riffs and sounds, which works excellently while you’re actually dancing in a huge sweaty crowd. Under the harsh light of day, however, it feels lackluster—no matter how loudly you crank the speakers.
To make matters worse, Recorded Live is a live mix album. This isn’t necessarily a setback; Tobin’s own work is strongly represented, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with mixes. The real problem is that the other songs (with a few high-profile exceptions) sound extremely similar to Tobin’s material. So it’s a mix that doesn’t sound like a mix, from a live show that you really had to be there for.
This doesn’t mean, lack of dynamic variation aside, that the material here is bad; the five minute-plus “Intro” gets things started, segueing into a quick and dirty mix of Tobin’s “Chronic Tronic” and DJ Food’s “Dark Lady”. When Dizzee Rascal pops up unexpectedly near the end of the set, his “Sittin Here” burbled and chopped to the point of glorious chaos, the match between acts feels right, and AFX, Controller 7, Exile and Danny Breaks all acquit themselves well on their tracks. The end is particularly strong: first Tobin smears the classic “Four Ton Mantis” between his own “Proper Hoodidge” and “Hey Blondie”, and then to cap off the night he roughs up the Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs”, with Nico sounding strangely right at home.
The relatively few surprising moments on this twenty-nine track collection, though, don’t make up for the long patches of dullness. Even if you like this stuff, there’s likely to be too much of it here with too little diversity to have you coming back for seconds. Recorded Live gives you a good idea of what Amon Tobin sounds like when he comes to your town, and that’s an experience well worth having; but also one that doesn’t translate well into your living room. This won’t wind up finding its way to your stereo over even his lesser albums.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2004-11-23