Maniac Meat, the new album from Tobacco, is released on Monday, 28 June, on Anticon. Featuring guest appearances from Beck.
Black Moth Super Rainbow lynchpin Tobacco, returns with Maniac Meat, follow-up LP to his 2006 debut Fucked Up Friends.
Rumour has it that as a teenager Tom Fec had no interest in any music; nothing synched with the young man’s strange cranial waves. But then he heard The Beastie Boys and everything changed. Morphing into Tobacco, Fec started to play with old school analogue synthesisers, drum machines, effects pedals and a vocoder.
After featuring in a number of weird and wonderfully named bands, Fec found what appeared to be a permanent home with Black Moth Super Rainbow. The band’s psychedelic electronica has been honed over seven years and peaked in 2009 with sell-out SXSW shows and a fourth studio album, Eating Us, produced by David Freidman. And then Fec decided that it was time to be just Tobacco again.
“Mostly everything I’ve done with Black Moth Super Rainbow is made to be pop. And a lot of people say Black Moth Super Rainbow is bordering on hip-hop beats. So with Tobacco, I wanted to embrace my beats and get darker and sleeker with it all. I want to make you feel paranoid in a good way.”
Compared to the polished and, at times, tranquil pastures of Eating Us, Maniac Meat is a psychotic, bewildering beast, boasting two cameos from Beck and a mutant-eyed wink in the direction of Aphex Twin.
Opening track Constellation Dirtbike Head rushes in on a pounding backbeat with vocodered vocals riding helium high, pillion posturing with words of wisdom: “Don’t let the fairies clone you”. Tobacco revs six throttle lyrics in and out of gear and the track speeds and skids around a screaming synth line. As the distorted groove fizzes and fuzzes to a climax he throws down the challenge “burn all your things”. In the flame-flowered aftermath of this opening onslaught no doubt.
Beck makes his first appearance on second track Fresh Hex, the crazed, angry doppelganger of The Beta Band’s The Three E.P.’s. And Orpheus has dragged this blistered spirit to Hades, along with the opening refrain from DJ Shadow’s High Noon, letting them swelter and warp before returning back top for Beck to wax unlyrical with unfathomable intent; words shunted together, scraped and bleeding.
Throughout Maniac Meat Tobacco slips from beatbox to live drums, introducing swamped analogue synth stabs before switching to melodic pulses and electronic, harmonic waves. The results are often alarming but strangely addictive. Keep the headphones on long enough and you’ll find yourself trapped in an eight-bit psycho killer Atari game, where claustrophobic, hallucinatory voices compete with unholy, demonic rhythms.
From Aphex Twin to Air and even Jean Michel Jarre, there are plenty of sonic sign posts on Maniac Meat. But this is no cut and paste rip-off. Tobacco has his own intoxicating sound. The fuzz and static is surprisingly warm and despite the guttural exhalations, from both artist and machines, there are melodies lurking under the surface of most tracks.
Tobacco is more than happy to let his music do the talking….and when you possess a voice tinged with gravel-dust from the outer reaches of the universe, why not. But it makes finding out about future tours incredibly difficult. An extensive European outing is promised, so to find out when, I’d suggest keeping in touch with his Anticon page. In the meantime…enjoy the meat on youtube…