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Maniac Meat

[Anticon; 2010]

By ; May 25, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The 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.

Like BMSR, the lyrics are somewhat indecipherable but still range from crazy to disturbing to unexplainable once you actually get around to deciphering them (“You got sick from a lolli, lolli, lollipop/ You feel free when you’re killing me,” he says on “Heavy Makeup”).

This is not to suggest that the record is too heady for its own good. What is actually being said shouldn’t be the main focus but moreso how he’s saying it and what the music is communicating to the listener. Because his songs are so concise (13 of the 16 tracks never go over three-minutes) we never get wrapped up in one idea for too long.

Take for instance one of the two songs which feature Beck (That’s right, Beck is on a Tobacco record), “Fresh Hex.” A vocoder-less Beck doesn’t so much “rap” as he displays his chops at rapid-fire alliteration while analog synths create a whirlwind of fuzz. However, the track lasts all of 95 seconds and it ends pretty abruptly.

This might be a point of criticism for some listeners. With such brief songs, it’s hard to communicate a certain theme to the audience, especially when the vocals are hazy and largely take a backseat to all the melodic fuzz.

But, essentially that is the theme. Sure, Fec could probably release a record of eight songs that build the beat, diversify instrumentation and maybe even communicate something more ethereal to the audience. But instead he’s got a record full of beats and melodies that have the ability to go from zero to a hundred in the wink of an eye. And those songs are filled with paranoia, urgency and madness. But Tom Fec wouldn’t have it any other way. Nor should he.


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