Acting as a discerning, professional, deep listener I sometimes try to figure out exact criteria for what makes great music. I have come to the conclusion, however, that a set of concrete criteria is impossible and, actually, downright silly, because, much like music itself, the criteria should be fluid and specifically applicable. Musical taste is subjective and thusly mobile, so should the general ideas behind judging a piece as great or transcendent. In the new millennium, Amon Tobin provided us (me and anybody else that thinks this album is godhead) with a truly masterful work of music in his third album, Supermodified. The answer to the criteria dilemma is approaching... With Supermodified, Tobin stepped out of the formulated, mathematical world of trip-hop and moved into a sound truly unique. Seriously, no one has replicated his sound and style; busy yet in-the-pocket grooves and a monstrous, ominous sound that is simultaneously dreamy, comforting and danceable. His sense of rhythm and drum programming are unparalleled, yet refrain from becoming too heady to nod your head to. He took the original hip-hop aesthetic and pushed it into the new millennium and outer/inner space. Tobin's work exists in an anime-esque world of mechanical organisms and species that evolved in the dark of our scientific vision (think Pan's Labyrinth for starters).
For Supermodified I can think of a few criteria for greatness:
1. Do you still listen to this piece regularly after years of its existence?
2. Even after at least 50 listens, do you feel you can still garner something new from it?
3. Does it continue to excite and pique the interest between you and a peer?
I can unilaterally say yes to all the above and more in my mind...but I can't harvest them out right now...
If I were scoring this album on a scale of 1-10, it would undoubtedly receive a 10 (probably an 8.5 or 9 when I first got it in 2000, but after years of crafting a relationship with this record, it is perfect. And I say that unabashedly).