Permutation, by Amon Tobin
Suggested by Jamie Walsh
Music can be used for many things. Personally, it’s good for cheering me up. It’s good for getting my heart pumping, for firing up my competitive streak. It can also help in times of more quiet reflection, as a balm to soothe what ails me.
Going forward, I’ll be using Permutation by Amon Tobin as a soundtrack to occasions where I want to feel restless, uplifted, and slightly confused.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when I fired up this album. I certainly didn’t expect rather manic jazz-fused dance over a drum and bass backdrop. At once both mesmeric yet off-putting, Permutation is almost chaotically packed and delivered. There are shades of John Zorn here, and while the tracks may introduce themselves as simple standard of form and beat, there’s just enough craziness on display to keep you on edge the whole time. Underpinning it all is a strong yet never overpowering drum and bass backbone.
After listening to thirty-six albums thus far, this is the first one that truly felt like both something I’d not heard before and something I enjoyed. If I’m honest, I can’t really place pin into why I enjoyed it, but I smiled during the opening track (Like Regular Chickens), and I didn’t really stop until the final refrain of the wonderful and more understated Nova. That would be my standout track if it weren’t for Bridge, as I’m a sucker for a swinging drum solo even if it is electronic.
This album does a fine job of creating an aural cocoon that allows you to lose yourself in its intricacies without quite letting you descend into a fully restful state. Like a road trip to a mystery spot, you’re never quite sure what’ll be around the next bend, and that sense of anticipation can be tiring when it’s a constant buzz. In that sense, you could say this album is a touch overlong, but that feels like a manufactured complaint.
I’m giving Permutation by Amon Tobin a highly respectable 8/10. I don’t know how often I’d listen to it, as it scratches an itch I didn’t even know I had until I heard it. I’ll save it for times when I’m feeling contrary, or for days on which I’m feeling adventurous yet slightly off-kilter.