Mixmaster Morris/ Amon Tobin | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mixmaster Morris/ Amon Tobin 

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MIXMASTER MORRIS/AMON TOBIN

To that nebulous network of techno and electronica fans called "the rave community," Mixmaster Morris is a legend. He's been an influential DJ for well over a decade, spinning at all-night parties as well as opening for bands like Stereolab and Jamiroquai; he's organized major DJ events and run regular clubs in his native England; and recording under the name Irresistible Force he's released several albums that have been huge underground hits. To me, however, his new It's Tomorrow Already (Ninja Tune) suggests that he's better at spinning other people's music than he is at making his own--the overlong collection finds him breaking up his groovy ambient dub with predictable snatches of spoken word and wan ethnic music samples. Far better is last year's The Morning After (Virgin), a chill-out mix CD that effectively captures Morris's ability to pull connections out of a genre populated by faceless teeming millions. Fortunately Morris will DJ here, as will jungle whiz Amon Tobin. On Tobin's latest album, Permutation (Ninja Tune), the Brazilian native and Brighton resident continues to develop his peculiar brand of punishing drum 'n' bass, which is flecked with airy Brazilian rhythms, noirish sound-track strings, Buddy Rich-style drum solos, and hokey lounge piano, among other things. Much drum 'n' bass at this point is tediously formulaic, repetitive, and simplistic, but Tobin's music is the work of an overexcited individual, each cut crammed to the bursting point with ideas. On "Sordid" he juggles choppy soul-jazz piano chords, somber orchestral passages, dark blitzkrieg bass tones, and one hyperavalanche of beats after another, while on "Fast Eddie" a weightless samba groove and a Cu-bop horn line are nearly obliterated by a fusillade of jacked-up rhythms. You can actually listen to this record at home without nodding off. Tobin's DJ set at the Smart Bar last year delivered a delirious mix of the borrowed elements that make his own stuff so convincing. Spacetime Continuum (aka Jonah Sharp) also performs. Sunday, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photos.

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