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Tobacco - Ultima II Massage

Severely damaged, sometimes terrifying, and always enjoyable, it’s his most challenging album yet.

‘Ultima II Massage’ is like a possessed ghetto blaster damaged beyond repair. It’s the record that Tom Fec has been trying to make under his Tobacco guise since he released ‘Fucked Up Friends’ in 2008, and it sounds absolutely revolting in the best way possible. Severely damaged, sometimes terrifying, and always enjoyable, it’s his most challenging album yet.

Following on from 2010’s Beck-featuring ‘Maniac Meat’, the record gets back to the very skeletal basics of Tobacco, amplifying them to their extremes in the process. This is pure analog filth, bubbling synthesised scum unrelenting in its acerbity. But under all the ‘80s exercise tape-channelling menace, there are fantastically written songs, and genuinely pretty melodies. It never quite reaches the abrasive heights of, say, Death Grips, but it can get equally as heavy. It’s far removed from the pan-flute sampling psychedelia of his work in Black Moth Super Rainbow, with only a murky shadow of his once immediate accessibility remaining.

Tobacco’s sound has advanced, whilst regressing in elegance. ‘Streaker’ immediately darkens his aural palette, with dirt encrusting his once vibrant sound. It’s bolder than what’s come before, keeping his unprecedented sound whilst capturing it at its most austere. It’s his previous output being strangled, overpowered by an obscured spectre possessing his music. ‘Video Warning Attempts’ sounds particularly tortured, despite featuring a gorgeous melody slyly drifting in the background.

At 45 minutes in length, it’s his longest release as Tobacco, but it never outstays its welcome. The sleazy, static-emanating character is maintained throughout, making sure to surprise along the way. It’s the most complete release in his entire discography, with a clear narrative arc working under its caustic surface. The start, middle, and end all serve a purpose; for the first time in his career it feels like something more than an intensely interesting sketchbook.

This is an artist pushing his sound until he breaks it, making sure to relish in its cacophony.

Tags: Tobacco, Reviews, Album Reviews

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