The Loud Killer
Tobacco is tough to pin down. The Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman makes music in a certain flavor of weird that is unusual even among a class of bizarre contemporaries. The artist showcases an unabashed fetish for analog synthesizers, warped vocals and a sound that is as dark and heavy as a truckload of hot tar.
Ultima II Massage kicks off with “Streaker,” an abrasive war-cry of pounding beats, pulsing synth overdrive, and vocal chants so heavily distorted that they cease to resemble anything in the realm of human. The lo-fi minimalism and relentless intensity of this Tobacco sound is reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Human After All record; to hell with punches and kicks– every beat is a bullet, a Howitzer, a tank driving straight through your wall. What he may lack in complexity or variety of sound, Tobacco makes up for with sheer brute force.
That kind of force, naturally, is not sustainable over the long term, and so Ultima II Massage has its peaks and valleys. “Good Complexion” is a complete 180 from the opening track’s crushing intensity. It’s a melodic, dance-friendly track that would be more at home in a club setting than a cyborg warzone. “Eruption” gives off a hip-hop vibe, with catchy rhythms and the vocalist spitting more f-bombs than the dirtiest dudes in town. At times, it verges on breakdown. “Blow Your Heart” is among the most frenetic and eccentric of the album’s 17 tracks, and with every dial turned up to 11, it’s the kind of sound that inspires either love or disgust, with very little gray area in between. Yet tracks like “Father Sister Berzerker” show a balance and melodic craft that many top producers struggle to wrench out of their tracks.
Make no mistake — this is not a record for those who like to “take it easy” or “just chill out.” Ultima II Massage is raunchy cyber-punk for those with a penchant for analog grit. Think Crystal Castles after a week without sleep. It is a dark, scuzzy, paranoia-inducing trip with no lofty ambitions. This one came straight from the gutter and stayed there.