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Techno music is never short on energy, but with artists now letting their laptop algorithms call the shots, electronica often comes up dreadfully short on actual human emotion. Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) best displays this embrace of the cold, clinical side of the sampler. Most of his ambient jaunts and drill ‘n’ bass tirades overtly display an absence of a sentient being. Perhaps many wouldn’t be surprised if James came forward as a hoax, his music just a computer glitch spitting out track after track.

If Aphex Twin is electronica’s Andy Kaufman, then Brazilian born Amon Tobin is its Ennio Morricone. Weighted with emotion, Tobin’s hand-crafted cuts and breaks frame a more thought-out and composed soundscape that’s better suited to the silver screen than the club scene. His reported disdain for synthesized sounds has his sampler brimming with real-world snippets: acoustic instruments, human noises and found sounds. Swelling with jazz and orchestral samples from the ’60s, Tobin, who lived most of his life in England and recently relocated to Montreal, also embellishes his work with oddities such as an angry elephant as a trumpet or a mufflerless motorcycle as a bass line.

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