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Tobacco returns with visionary third solo album

Despite Tobacco's best efforts to uglify the endeavor, Ultima II Massage features passages that are as infectious and danceable as the best pop

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The years will bear it out, but let's just get it in print now: Tobacco, best known as the mastermind of Black Moth Super Rainbow, is a visionary. His is a generational voice, the generation being one that came of age under a shroud of Internet anonymity and used the benefit of boundless information to catalog an unhappy childhood's worth of broken toys, culling from this newfound power a mandate to outstrip and outshock, pissing on the sacred in service to some unnameable otherness. (It's nothing so banal as Evil, but something stickier and more shameful.) In general, Tobacco's sound has always embodied this state of arrested adolescence, but he's never captured it so succinctly as on Ultima II Massage, his third solo outing.

This time around, Tobacco applied his trademark methodology of damage and obfuscation to  produce a work of meditative cohesiveness. He returned to his analog roots, recording on the cassette decks he used to launch his career, ensuring any sheen the album might have is one of grime, not polish.

Despite Tobacco's best efforts to uglify the endeavor, though, Ultima II Massage features passages that are as infectious and danceable as the best pop. Moreover, it's hard to turn an ear from the more obtuse passages, which offer the audio equivalent of creeping centipedes and time-lapsed decay. The zone-out quality he aspired to is achieved, only insofar as the sound he created has some ambient qualities. Listeners who find some emotional resonance in Ultima II Massage will want to pore over the music, puzzling it out for insight into the mind of its creator.

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