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Amon Adonai Santos de Araújo Tobin (born 7 February 1972), better known as Amon Tobin, is a Brazilian electronic musician and DJ. He is best known for his use of sampling. Tobin is also credited with helping to create the emerging "trip hop" genre in the late 1990s. He has released seven major studio albums since 1996 under the Londonmarker-based Ninja Tune record label where he is considered one of their most successful artists.

In 2005, he created the musical score to Ubisoft's critically acclaimed and successful video game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. He is also noted for his entirely field-recorded album Foley Room, released in 2007. His music has been used in numerous major motion pictures including The Italian Job and 21. Tobin has created songs for several independent films, including the 2006 Hungarian film Taxidermia.


Early career (1995–1997)

Tobin was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he spent most of his early childhood. The surname Tobin comes from his Irish stepfather. At the age of 9, he and his family left Brazil to live in Moroccomarker, Netherlandsmarker, London, Portugalmarker and Madeira Islandmarker. Tobin settled in Brighton, England as a teenager which remained his permanent residence until 2002. There he began producing electronic music in his bedroom with samplers and other audio equipment such as an Amstrad Studio 100 4-track, although he was "not really involved in the [music] scene" at that time. While taking an editorial photography class at a university in Brighton, he responded to a magazine promotion for the London-based Ninebar record label asking artists to send in demos of their songs. Ninebar signed Tobin to the label in 1996 after hearing his early work, and he traveled between his home in Brighton and the studios in London to produce his first official works. Currently, he resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The US version of the cover art to Tobin's first full-length album Adventures in Foam

Under his original moniker Cujo, he released a series of drum and bass remixes on 12-inch vinyl. Allmusic called them "head-turning" in a review. Many of those tracks were later included on his first full-length album Adventures in Foam, originally released in 1996 by Ninebar to a limited release of 5,000 copies.

The larger Ninja Tune record label had been growing in the United Kingdommarker at the time with help from their successful artists such as DJ Food, Funki Porcini, The Herbaliser, and Coldcut. DJ Food and Funki Porcini noticed Tobin's work on Adventures in Foam and prompted the label to approach him. Ninja Tune signed Tobin in late 1996, this time under his abbreviated name "Amon Tobin". The official Ninja Tune website has said that Adventures in Foam had been re-released without permission by the USmarker-based Shadow Records that same year and that this unauthorized version, labeled the "US release", included only 7 of the original songs, different cover art, and that some tracks were titled incorrectly. In 1997 Ninja Tune acquired the proper licenses from Ninebar and re-released the album themselves. This version included the original album in its entirety, and a second disc containing previously unreleased material. As of 2008, copies of Shadow Record's "US version" are still sold by online retailer Over the course of its production, Adventures in Foam has been reviewed favorably. Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork Media said that its break-beat style "got totally out of hand", but that it "never fails to let the listener know who's in charge." The album was released for a fourth time in 2002, again by Ninja Tune.

Defining albums (1997–2002)

Over the next several years, Tobin released three albums. Bricolage, released in 1997, was the culmination of two projects Tobin had started after his debut album earlier that year. His third album Permutation was released in 1998. In the late 1990s, sample-based music was becoming more popular with a wide range of emerging and developing genres, but Tobin himself was still largely unknown. Tobin's style of music was not seen as definitively belonging to one genre or another. The critics that commented on Bricolage and Permutation gave them positive reviews and they are often mentioned, by later reviewers and interviewers, as some of his best works. Pitchfork Media acclaimed the use of jazz instrument samples, comparing him to famous composers Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. In a 1999 review, they awarded Bricolage a very rare 10/10 and said that it was "one of the most inventive records of the decade."

Tobin released his fourth album, Supermodified in 2000. The album is regarded as his most commercial album to date. Critic reviews were generally positive, with Pitchfork rating the album 9.1/10, and Stylus Magazine saying, "Not many studio-bound electronic musicians could put forward such a vivid and dynamic statement or make it as entertaining and downright funky as Supermodified has managed to do."

Montreal (2002–present)

In 2002, Tobin relocated to Montrealmarker, Canadamarker where he had spent time previously at Ninja Tune's North American Headquarters. As of 2002, Tobin lives in the industrial area of Old Montrealmarker to avoid noise complaints from neighbors after dark. There he produced his fifth album Out From Out Where released that same year. This was his first album created primarily in a professional studio. He later released a single, Verbal, taken from Out From Out Where. Otis Hart of Dusted Magazine said that Tobin's style of producing had come into its own. He acclaimed Tobin's "refined sense of tempo" compared to his previous albums.

The cover art of Chaos Theory - Splinter Cell 3 Soundtrack

In January 2004, Tobin was contracted by video game company Ubisoft Montrealmarker to compose the soundtrack for the third installment of their critically successful Splinter Cell series, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. To facilitate using the music in a video game, where the level of action or plot can change in real-time, each track was broken down by Tobin into four distinct but similar parts based on their level of intensity. The game's developers could then use each section to provide music based on the actions of the player. The album continued the trend Tobin started with Out From Out Where, as he used more original samples during production. In addition to being included with the game, Ninja Tune released the score as an individual album in 2005, titled Chaos Theory - Splinter Cell 3 Soundtrack, several months before the game's release. It was received well, benefiting from a wider audience of reviewers in both the music and gaming industries. Ben Hogwood of applauded Tobin's use of melody and texture, adding that he controlled the sounds with the "clarity of a classical orchestrator." He later recorded a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound version of the album with audio engineer Bobby Azinsky in a dedicated Solid State Logic studio in Los Angelesmarker.

Tobin's sixth studio album, Foley Room, was released in 2007. The title alludes to the "foley rooms" used by recording engineers and foley artists to record sound effects in the movie industry. On this album, Tobin concluded his transition away from prerecorded source material that started with Out From Out Where. All of the samples used for production were recorded by himself using an omnidirectional microphone. Recorded primarily in Montreal, San Franciscomarker, and Seattlemarker, the samples came from a wide range of sources including motorbikes, tigers, insects, and water falling from a tap. Also contributing to the album were the string quartet Kronos Quartet, drummer Stefan Schneider, and harpist Sarah Pagé. Foley Room's use of field-recordings was used to help promote the album, including two official pre-release trailers posted to YouTube. Nate Dorr of called it a "smooth, natural progression" from his work on Supermodified. The first single, "Bloodstone", was released to the iTunes Music Store months before the rest of the album. Ninja Tune also published a DVD titled Foley Room: Found Footage which documented the recording process.

In 2008, Tobin announced he was working on a new video game soundtrack for an "undisclosed PS3 title". This was later revealed to be the Playstation 3 exclusive game, inFamous.

Musical style and influences

Tobin is best known for his use of sampling, where a small section of a previous recording is manipulated to produce a new sound. His use of this technique has changed over the course of his career. On his original singles under Ninebar and his first three albums, Tobin acquired all of the samples to produce music from his personal collection of vinyl records. He manipulates the sounds with a combination of audio hardware, and software such as Cubase, and the original source is often not recognizable in its new context. The majority of his early work focused on reordering the break beats from jazz and blues music into faster more complex patterns. Guido Farnell of, wrote about his use of this technique, saying that Tobin has "taken the art to new and dizzying heights." His fifth album Out From Out Where, began the gradual shift away from prerecorded material by incorporating original guitar samples. His techniques began branching into technical sound design, taking break beats or single instruments, modifying specific frequencies, and producing new sounds. This trend continued through his video game score Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Soundtrack, and by his sixth album, Foley Room, all of the source material was recorded in the field by himself. Speaking about the creativity of sample-based music compared to traditional instruments, he says that "the creative input is in how you edit and manipulate the sounds."

Tobin experimented with various instruments. He does not come from a music family, nor has he had any formal training in music theory. Tobin later described in an interview with that drum and bass "made more sense to what I was into," comparing it to more traditional genres of music. About his music in general, Tobin says that he sees it as a "genuine" expression of the time he lives in, as he says blues, jazz, and Brazilian genres were "genuine" expressions of the 1960s. Despite his indirect connection with Brazilian genres, Tobin collaborated with a number of artists on Bebel Gilberto's 2000 bossa nova album Tanto Tempo. Tobin's albums are often compared to soundtracks, and he says that movies by David Lynch have influenced him. In addition, he has stated to like films by the Coen brothers, Dario Argento, and Roman Polanski.

Live performances

Not having any previous experience as a nightclub disc jockey (DJ), Tobin began performing live shows in clubs with other Ninja Tune artists after releasing his second album, Bricolage. His shows generally contain music that he has produced during his career, mixed with modified songs from drum and bass, hip-hop, or other genres. Although his music is primarily produced in a studio with samplers and other equipment, Tobin is not considered a Live PA performer who creates music live on-stage with those instruments. He is known for building Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound speaker systems during his performances.

Tobin has performed individual shows in many countries including tours in Europe, Australia, Japan, and the United States. His 2003 live performance in Melbournemarker, Australia was used for the fourth album in Ninja Tune's Solid Steel series because Tobin was not available to record a studio mix at the time. Many songs from the original recording were omitted because of copyright issues with the original artists, including the R&B group Destiny's Child.

A second Solid Steel album was recorded in Brussels at the Ancienne Belgiquemarker in 2007 and was released for free in November 2008. According to Tobin's official website, "After months of back and forth and despite everyone’s best efforts the mix was in danger of being edited into the ground to accommodate big labels and publishers. Rather than release a compromised version commercially, the decision was made to give it away for free instead."


Tobin has released seven major studio albums:

In addition, his body of work includes 21 extended play (EP) albums which contain several B-sides each, a live album for Ninja Tune's Solid Steel series, new material for various compilation albums, and original tracks available as free downloads on his website.

Tobin's music has been used in several major motion pictures including The Italian Job and 21. He has also produced tracks for a number of independent films, such as The Last Minute, and has created production music for the BMG Zomba commercial library which is used in various films. In 2006 he scored the soundtrack for the Hungarian horror film Taxidermia which was made available on his website.

In 2006 he began collaborating on a hip-hop oriented project with drum & bass/jungle producer Doubleclick and a number of guest vocalists. Under the name Two Fingers, the pair have released several singles followed by their self-titled debut album in 2009.


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