Amon Tobin & Tessa Farmer ‘ISAM: Control Over Nature’ Preview from Ninja Tune on Vimeo.

Amon Tobin has just launched ISAM — an album, audio-visual live performance tour and art exhibition — pairing Tobin’s original and evocative music with Tessa Farmer’s intriguingly organic sculptures. Both artists, Tobin in sound and Farmer in sculpture, explore the rearrangement of the “familiar” in disturbing, playful and highly original ways. Imagine opening the specimen drawer in a darkly lit Victorian-style natural history museum in a parallel universe while a steampunk science-fiction-meets-Sgt.-Pepper score plays in the background and you’ll start to get the picture.

In ISAM, Tobin uses Kyma to successfully blur the distinction between sound design and music: transforming sound effects into drippy, gurgly beats that sound like they were emitted from steam-powered machines; continuously gliding pitches seamlessly morph into harmonic anthems; and repeating rhythmic and harmonic patterns with endlessly changing orchestrations and backgrounds; glockenspiel fairy tales juxtaposed with aliens bursting unexpectedly out of bubbling tar pits. The music is evocative, cinematic, and highly original: chopped spectra with hints of vocal resynthesis; Klangfarben rhythms; electronic insects encountering R2D2, repeating distortion patterns; the soundtrack from a childhood nightmare set to a swinging 6/8 nursery rhyme beat; sitars followed by glass beads flung across a frozen pond at midnight; aliens dancing heavily & deliberately at BPM = 76; and those ubiquitous miniature skeletons dancing so wildly that tiny bones fly off at right angles, making tinkly sounds as they hit the floor.

The audio quality is superb, always crisp, clean and masterfully mastered.

Despite all the little skeletons, the overall atmosphere of ISAM is playful, rousing, and at times downright cheerful—and the BPMs hovering between 76-88 make it the perfect iPod soundtrack for strutting in the city or skipping your way through a crowded airport.

ISAM: Control over Nature will be shown at the Crypt Gallery in London (26 May – 3 June 2011) followed by a showing at L’espace Art Roch in Paris (13 – 23 June 2011). Live tour dates so far are:

01.06.2011 Astra, Berlin, Germany
09.06.2011 AB Club, Brussels, Belgium
10.06.2011 Bataclan, Paris, France
11.06-17.2011 The Roundhouse, London, UK

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