With Black Moth Super Rainbow, fans have seen the transformation from uncontrolled trippy analog electronica to well proportioned, and sleek tunes that show a bit of applied elegance to the music when necessary. Tobacco fans have been rewarded immensely with a lot of great music in the last few years, and on Maniac Meat, the man behind the mask only reveals more masks, and that’s perfect for the kind of artist he is. He puts himself out in the open, and yet no one quite knows who or what Tobacco is.
For documentation purposes, I can say Tobacco is Tom Fec. The Tobacco mask he uses is a prominent one, for it has been use throughout Black Moth Super Rainbow’s history, but has been the anchor behind music released under the Tobacco name. Maniac Meat is his follow-up to his amazing debut, Fucked Up Friends, which showed us the usual love of luscious soundscapes but layered over more direct 4/4 funky beats. Consider Tobacco to be the freaky kid that loves to hear his voice sound like anything but his voice, but with a passion for old Cold Chillin’ and Tuff City records. Maniac Meat begins in a way that sounds more like Black Moth Super Rainbow’s eccentric and eclectic pop, although what makes it unlike the current state of pop music are the analog characteristics, everything from tape hiss pushed to the red, to using hardcore that allows him to carry an echo and manipulate until it sounds nothing like what was put into the box before. “Constellation Dirtbike Head” sounds like the title suggests, backdrop music for a homemade DMX video, complete with a segment where everyone eats it. “Lick The Witch” may be about licking an actual witch, a sandwich, an ice cream sandwich, or nothing, but it’s a funky and dusty track that sounds like it was pulled from the BS 2000 archives. It even uses some of the same drum samples heard on Fucked Up Friends, so there’s some continuity involved. “Motorlicker” is so raw and dirty, one might mistake its heaviness for something coming from the Madlib library, in fact I would love to hear a Tobacco/Madlib collaboration. Tobacco briefly talked about wanting to do a song with Biz Markie, and while he’s not here, it might sound like the Moog-induced “Unholy Demon Rhythms.”
Other songs like “New Juices From The Hot Tub Freaks,” “Creepy Phone Calls,” and “Six Royal Vipers” come off like a secret Andre 3000 beat tape that no one supposed to hear. In fact, hip-hop fans will enjoy hearing this in a beat tape-type fashion, but the 16 songs on Maniac Meat also work as mini-operas, each one self-contained to sound and be in its own world and nowhere else. If you’re a fan of Tobacco’s video productions, you can’t help but listen to these songs and imagine footage of 20 Minute Workout, long lost educational school films, and 80’s porn with knee high socks. The instruments and sounds he uses, combined with the voices that are identified as the Tobacco sound, are a wicked combination between child-like curiosity and post-collegiate confidence. While this is not children’s music, they are as happy as those songs and stories of the past, but with the grown-up reality of what lurks behind the masks. Maniac Meat describes not only the music in meat form, but perhaps the meat in his head that lead to the creations of these maniacal bursts of pleasure. It is that odd album you wish no one would know about, but you hope that a future child, nephew, or niece will hear it in the same way you did, so that they’ll be inspired to create the same kind of delightful magic Tobacco is responsible for.