AMON TOBIN: CHAOS THEORY (2005)
1) The Lighthouse; 2) Ruthless; 3) Theme From Battery; 4) Kokubo Sosho Stealth; 5) El Cargo; 6) Displaced; 7) Ruthless (Reprise); 8) Kokubo Sosho Battle (adapted from Cougar Merkin); 9) Hokkaido; 10) The Clean Up.
Sometimes I wish I could say something good about this record — or, at least, something useful — but then the very next moment I wish I didn't wish that. Basically, this is just a soundtrack to a «stealth» video game (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory), and, as such, already a rather, er, suspicious entry in the artist's discography. However, lest the review turn into an angry rant about the abysmal effect of the Xbox on our generation, I must honestly state that Chaos Theory does work on its own as a «fully autonomous» electronic album, and that there is no obligatory need to waste hours / days / weeks of your precious life on generic virtual reality in order to fully assess its musical merits.
Which, honestly, do not seem at all comparable to me with the merits of Tobin's classic stuff. This is ten tracks worth of rather routine grooving, weaving the same sci-fi-meets-industrial atmosphere that Out From Out Where gave us three years before, but with a slight drop down in creativity. On an individual level, each track is crafted with Tobin's trademark professionalism, and almost everything is multi-part, either in «build-up» mode or going through several distinct rhythmic sections. Collectively, though, it's all a big bore.
'Kokubo Sosho Stealth' has some moody bits ranging on true eeriness, and is the only piece on here that could, perhaps, count as «electronic simulation of fusion» (Miles Davis might have appreciated the percussion). 'El Cargo', with its astral guitar riff and choral vocals, has an impressive beginning, but halfway through is overwhelmed by the obligatory percussion onslaught. And that's about all my brain is capable of coming up with in terms of individual track assessment: pathetic, but we could just blame the Xbox on that. Thumbs down, and the moral of this story is — if you are commissioned to write a video game soundtrack, just get the damn money, do not insist on having it included in your official discography.