Review : Tobacco - Maniac Meat
PitchforkThe longer some formerly hi-tech sound has lingered, the easier it is for some current musician to warp it into a purpose completely at odds with its original ultra-modern innovation. Last generation's gleaming chrome-and-plastic tomorrow gets fed through a chemical bath by some junkshop customer with a home recording studio, and it comes out the other end as a shambling wreck of digital decay, Frankenstein-stitched into discolored reveries or blown-out squalls.
Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman Tom Fec has been on both the mellow and the noisy sides of that mutation process. And where BMSR's last CD release, Eating Us, was a loud but frequently pretty collection of woozily psychedelic prog-pop, Tobacco's second solo album Maniac Meat is all fuzz and snarl, tar-pit bass and rusty-hinged drum machines smashed into corroded analog synths that sound like they were found in a backwoods scrapyard. Think of Boards of Canada's bucolic science-filmstrip wispiness run through a grease-caked doom metal/funk filter, or El-P's noisier productions with the dread and horror replaced by giddy bewilderment. I don't namedrop lightly-- it's actually a familiar, comfortable ride if you keep previous experiences with Geogaddi or Fantastic Damage at the forefront of your head while listening to this.
That's more of a case of kinship than replication. Tobacco shares those artists' samples-and-synths methodology towards similar hip-hop-skewing ends, but he tends to keep a finer balance toward both sides of his "ugly beauty" approach. Tobacco's inhuman, vaguely menacing but mysteriously cheerful filtered voice has a lot to do with that. It's the source of much of the album's decayed-future personality, drawing ambiguous threats, damaged come-ons, and grotesque accusations through unsettlingly fragile vocoder whispers: "Lick the witch/ Make a friend tonight"; "You got sick from a lolly lolly lollipop/ You feel free when you're killing me". It's not the only voice, of course: a pair of Beck cameos on "Fresh Hex" and "Grape Aerosmith" feature the same postmodern lyrical ambiguity that made him famous, and evoke the mutant electro of his circa-Midnite Vultures B-sides. But Fec's tone of subtly unhinged, deceptively naïf-like menace-- or deceptively menacing giddiness, depending on what you've just fed into your system-- runs the show....full text
OnethirtybpmThe artwork should serve as your first clue: this ain’t gonna be pretty.
Armed with analog synths, vocoders, a bass and a drumset, Tobacco’s new record Maniac Meat hits the ground running with 16 jams that can easily please hip-hoppers and stoner rock nerds alike while also scaring the shit out of your parents.
Those unfamiliar with Tobacco (Tom Fec) may be familiar with his other project Black Moth Super Rainbow that, according to a press release, has now been relegated to side-project status. Compared to the poppy, sunshine-laced jams of BMSR’s Dandelion Gum and their surprisingly polished-sounding Eating Us, Maniac Meat is almost a complete eradication of any residual pop charm that might sneak its way into a Tobacco record. It’s urgent like a car chase, stoned off its ass, modulated to death and, as the title would suggest, very maniacal.
There are rest stops from the chaos, however, like the head-bobbing, instrumental track “Unholy Demon Rhythms” and “Six Royal Vipers,” the closest thing to a ballad you’ll get on this record. But taking a rest on Maniac Meat is akin to taking a rest while some ax-wielding psychopath stops chasing you for a couple minutes to catch their breath. By the time “Vipers” ends, the listener is immediately thrown back into the chaos for “Overheater,” which has an alarming synth-line that rises and falls so nervously, you don’t know whether to tap your foot or check the room for that aforementioned psychopath....full text
AvclubExperimental psych-pop collective Black Moth Super Rainbow took an unexpected turn toward normal(ish) on last year’s explosively catchy Eating Us; now one of the band’s primary creative forces, Tobacco, steers his truck back off-road on his latest solo project, Maniac Meat. The new album’s style will be immediately familiar to BMSR fans: disco bounce, air-raid synthesizers, intense freckling of light and shadow, and distorted vocoder-aided vocals that sound like some post-apocalyptic customer-service hotline. But Maniac Meat plays rougher and heavier; the songs sound like first drafts, knocked out in a burst of inspiration, then run through as many sonic filters as possible to dirty them up. At first, Tobacco’s grip-and-rip approach is invigorating, on songs like the jarring, riffy “Constellation Dirtbike Head,” the sinewy “Mexican Icecream,” and the unhinged, Beck-aided “Fresh Hex.” But since the sound of Maniac Meat is really no different than BMSR (or Tobacco’s earlier solo albums), the lack of memorable melodies or thoughtful composition becomes increasingly frustrating as the record drones on. An album called Maniac Meat shouldn’t be so predictable....full text
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