Tobacco - Maniac Meat - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tobacco - Maniac Meat

by Hiro Master Rating:7 Release Date:2010-07-05

Maniac Meat drips like a bag of onion rings -it's an album of sleaze, synth and sweat, which follows up Tobacco's 2006 album Fucked Up Friends. Tobacco is the solo project of Pittsburgh-based, psychedelic pop project Black Moth Super Rainbow's frontman Tom Fec. From the cover art, which shows a Hieronymus Bosch-like hench surfer dude vomming in front of an apocalyptical tub of KFC greasy meat, to the songs, which have titles like 'TV All Greasy', 'Motherlicker', 'Sweatmother' and 'Lick the Witch'- the emphasis here is on grease, sweat, and any other number of bodily fluids. Like a night out that ends in Chicken Cottage, listening to Maniac Meat is vaguely impenetrable in the cold light of day, heavily improved by the taking of substances, and, afterwards, you might - just might - need to take a shower.

Tobacco's aesthetic has stepped up from Fucked Up Friends, but don't expect a drastic change of direction. His brand of nauseating psychedelic electronica remains the same - dirty synths combine with hip-grooves, cut up with videogame sounds, , and all sorts of lo-fi melodic fuzz. The first song on the album, 'Constellation Dirtbike Head', is a banging psychedelic tour de force, with catchy beats and Tobacco's trademark dizzying synths.

The lyrics are violent and nauseating - clearly the effect Tobacco wants to put out with this album. Take 'Overheater', where a dislocated vocoder voice repeats the refrain: "Put me into your milkshake/ Smash my eyes out/ Flush my head out." The lyrics turn your stomach, but the music gently lures you back in.

For a 16-track album, Maniac Meat is bound to have some misses, but there are some treats there too. 'New Juices from the Hot Tub Freaks' has a good sound, but can get a bit repetitive. The same goes for 'Unholy Demon Rhythm', a track which melts together beatbox samples with eerie synth trips and a heavy bass rhythm, but still falls flat on your ears after the first minute. 'Heavy Makeup' is definitely a treat - an up-beat electro track banger with yet more whirring synths, which lasts slightly longer than most of the other tracks.

Though there are plenty of songs, many of them could have benefited from being a little longer - as soon as you're sucked into a particular riff, the track is over. It's a shame that it's the better songs that are often also the shortest - especially Beck's two contributions to the album: 'Fresh Hex' and 'Grape Aerosmith'. 'Fresh Hex' is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Here, Tobacco features Beck's alliterative, free-association rap (with such nonsensical lyrics as "colour-coordinated cowboy catchphrase") and chops it over whirring distorted synths, creating a dizzying cacophony of words and sound. 'Grape Aerosmith' can summon up a bad trip in the purest of listeners. The nauseating music combined with Beck's trippy chanting creates a gentle but suitable psychedelic end to the album. Nonetheless, there are plenty of short and beautiful tracks. 'Stretch Your Face', for example, is enchanting - trippy, delicate, with repetitive driving riffs.

Tobacco's sound, like that of Black Moth Super Rainbow, is characterised by an intentionally retro production aesthetic, which uses old-fashioned electronic sounds (like the beginning of 'Fresh Hex') created by vintage analogue synths and tape players. Maniac Meat combines the lo-fi sounds of purposefully damaged production with hi-fi, industrial-tinged hip hop beats. Tobacco does all this while still keeping the mysterious aura around his musical persona - rumour has it this album was recorded in the deep dark recesses of a forest in Pittsburgh. This clearly seems to be the trend for musicians at the moment, as bands like Summer Camp and Cults are keeping their identities shrouded in mystery. For Tobacco, this isn't a bid for twee - Maniac Meat is abrasive, demonic, and in-your-face sleazy. It's also the kind of album that you'll know already if you're going to like or not. Beck's vocal contributions on 'Fresh Hex' and 'Grape Aerosmith' will likely gain some new ears, but to be honest, this album isn't a friendly first listen.

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