Sometimes I can send off a record review in ten minutes. Excited by the tunes in my headphones or emanating from my computer’s tinny speakers, my fingers fly across the keys with artistic inspiration. Other times, it takes time and a few repeat spins of the disc to let the music settle into my brain. Tobacco’s Maniac Meat is one such record.
You could ask, what’s happening here? A better question is, what isn’t? So many sounds merge on this album that it can be difficult to discern how these arrangements were conceived, let alone constructed. Tobacco, who is also the frontman of Pittsburgh’s experimental psychedelic outfit Black Moth Super Rainbow, is known as much for his borderline hip-hop beats as he is for his solo analog-based electronic collages. Rolling Stone called his first album “stoner-rock.” Since I don’t indulge, you’ll have to find out about this one yourself.
The entirety of Maniac Meat sounds like a cross between an underwater concert, some synthed-out Dosh, and a few Daft Punk samples. “Creepy Phone Calls” is a dance hit of epic proportion. Less distortion and more danceable synth, the track is lyric-less but soulful. “New Juices From the Hot Tub Freaks” brings some serious rock to the mix with heavy guitars—or at least, a vocoder sample that sounds exactly like them.
The album’s two tracks featuring guest instrumentation or vocals, “Fresh Hex” and “Grape Aerosmith” sound like Beck songs for a reason. Mr. Hansen, auteur of noise, makes a guest appearance, though according to Tobacco, the two never met during their collaboration. The wonders of lo-fi genius at work in our modern world.
BMSR may be SXSW darlings, but Tobacco also gets away with doing few interviews. I like privacy in the age of oversharing. I like artistic merit in a time of paparazzi-based acclaim. And I like anyone who uses a tape machine when a Mac with some audio software will do. Because for some of us, it won’t.