Reviving the Two Fingers side-project he created with British drum ‘n’ bass producer Doubleclick, hugely influential Quebec-based Brazilian DJ Amon Tobin turns his hard-hitting electro attentions to the B-boy era with this lovingly-crafted homage to 80s hip-hop.
Unlike 2009’s self-titled effort, which featured guest vocals from grime rapper Sway, Stunt Rhythms is purely an instrumental affair. On the dizzying headrushes of “Lock 86,” a hard-hitting old-skool journey back to the heyday of the acid house movement, and the adrenaline-charged “Fools Rhythm,” which could well have been recorded in the cockpit of a Formula 1 race car, the lack of vocals aren’t much of an issue.
However, the head-bobbing warped G-funk of “Magoo” is just crying out for one of Snoop Dogg’s trademark drawls, likewise the plinky plonky early 00s Dr. Dre vibes of “101 South.” The emphatic rock beats of “Crunch Rhythm” also deserve to have been accompanied by the kind of inspired delivery that made Jay-Z’s similar “99 Problems” such an iconic anthem.
But with a refreshing lack of self-indulgence, (all 13 tracks clocking in under the four-minute mark), Two Fingers leaves us little time to get bored, and admittedly, the hits on Stunt Rhythms far outweigh the misses. “Sweden” is a brilliantly menacing ball of warped acidic bass-lines, crunching hand-claps and slow-motion grooves, which is the complete antithesis to the shiny happy schlager-pop sound the country is renowned for.
Whilst in amongst the sense of intensity created by the relentless industrial stabs and monstrous bass wobbles, there’s also an engaging playfulness on the likes of the tribal tap-dancing “Razorback” and the Kraftwerk-esque “Snap,” which sounds like you’ve wandered in on a domestic disturbance between two robots. Opener “Stripe Rhythm” even features the kind of cinematic sweeping string section that you’d expect to herald the sunrise on a David Attenborough documentary.
Self-described as a love letter to hip-hop, Stunt Rhythms would undeniably have benefitted from at least a few rhymes and life. But as occasionally challenging as it can be, it’s still a dynamic effort which further consolidates Tobin’s esteemed reputation.