Review ·

Mystery is making a comeback. In the last two years, the inevitable backlash to Internet demystification has swept forth bands for which the unknown was their biggest selling points. Acts that have taken advantage of the difficulty of digging up information on them include jj (no relation), iamamiwhoami, and oOoOO. While I’d be the last person to call for returning to the apotheosis of the pop star, I certainly think removing the artist from the art can produce salutary returns.


Case in point: Tobacco. Outside your standard assortment of press-release biography -- the mad genius behind Black Moth Super Rainbow, given name Tom Fec, maybe he lives in Pennsylvania somewhere -- I’ve kept myself purposefully unaware of the band's real-world background. Consider a testament to the immersive sonic world he’s crafted over several BMSR records and now two solo efforts: The mental image I’ve painted for myself fits the music too well. Surrounded by dully glowing neon, snorting nutmeg and ingesting datura, blasting breakbeat records in one corner of the room and Radiophonic Workshop LPs in the other, playing 8-bit videogames while knocking back a six-pack of cough syrup. I can’t imagine a more conventional individual would be capable of music so loopy and wired, so blown-out and studded with small details, so wonderfully idiosyncratic.


The material on Maniac Meat is both a refinement of what came before on Fucked Up Friends and a rebuttal of the desiccated, sanitized sound of Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Eating Us. As soon as “Constellation Dirtbike Head” hits, you are right back in Tom Fec’s wheelhouse. A driving arcade beat carries Fec’s giddily hallucinatory vocals right into the first refrain, whence the dirty siren synths and live drums kick you right in the face. It kicks off Maniac Meat’s impressive opening stretch, all basement sweat and body-movement, working the purely intuitive areas of the musical brain that are so prime for this kind of music. Fec moves things along at a tidy pace through the first seven cuts, drawing equally from hip-hop grooves and videogame sonics, first leaning more toward one and then back toward the other. This stretch also boasts some of the record's highest highs, from Beck’s brilliant speaking-in-tongues cameo on “Fresh Hex” to the unnerving Boom Bap horror of “Sweatmother.” (The latter track is at the fore of a host of cuts on Maniac Meat that absolutely scream for an MC to rhyme over. It comes as no surprise that rumor has Tobacco's next release as an all hip-hop affair replete with many an indie-rap guest-star.)


Things hit a bit of bump when “Heavy Makeup” overstays its welcome by about two minutes, and it’s only then that it hits you that Maniac Meat is 16 tracks long. So lengthy a record will almost always contain some duds, and while the second half of the record isn’t as winning as the first, it’s hardly a slog. “TV All Greasy” is one of the album’s best matchups of killer beat with mind-melting synths, and “Overheater” contains one of the finer examples of Fec’s delirious, world-defining lyrical style: “Put me into your milkshake/ Smash my eyes out/ Flush my head out.”


Would I enjoy the music on Maniac Meat less were I to know that Tom Fec worked days in advertising, drove a sensibly fuel-efficient car, was a Phillies fan? In the final analysis: Unlikely. The songs are too determinedly distinctive to gainsay. But that mental sonic world that the music creates would be less intense, less encompassing, and listening would be less a transportive experience in the Tom Fec Dimension. Thankfully, this is Tobacco’s world, and you can't trust your brain to determine mystery from madness.


  • Constellation Dirtbike Head
  • Fresh Hex [ft. Beck]
  • Mexican Icecream
  • Lick the Witch
  • Sweatmother
  • Motorlicker
  • Unholy Demon Rhythms
  • Heavy Makeup
  • Grape Aerosmith [ft. Beck]
  • New Juices From the Hot Tub Freaks
  • Six Royal Vipers
  • Overheater
  • Creepy Phone Calls
  • TV All Greasy
  • Stretch Your Face
  • Nuclear Waste Aerobics

Maniac Meat is the sophomore effort from Tobacco, the solo project of Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman Tom Fec. This effort refines the focus on analog synthesizers and vocoder-treated vocals that marked Fec's debut. Particularly notable are the two guest spots by Beck, who Fec was able to contact through the label head at Anticon Records. Beck contributed vocals to the tracks“Fresh Hex” and “Grape Aerosmith.”

Thee Oh Sees - Warm Slime Pontiak Living

Added album art!

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

Blatant misinformation:

"Once again, the bass and drums are the only live instruments here, with the rest of the audio space being taken up by layers of samples."

Dude rarely uses sample (maybe one on the whole album) and is famous for playing vintage analog synths. Plus, he destroys the harmonica on at least one song. It's all the press release, Matthew.

YT McGrue

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mrblackw/skyprint1.jpg mrblackw tobacco and black moth super rainbow are known for playing all vintage analog synths and not for using samples. maybe a little homework on, and listening to, the artist might be good the next time you do a review

kate hoos

On the real, this is one of the worst 'reviews' I have ever read. If I was Matthew Blackwell's editor, I would fire him immediately for submitting such garbage.
There is absolutely no description of the music. Seriously, not even one word was used to describe the music.
Even more criminal is the outright misinformation given. Samples? Excuse me homie, my man plays real analog keyboards. Doing even ONE MINUTE of background research would've told you this.
I cannot believe this 'review' was printed.
Matthew Blackwell, I am forwarding this comment to your editor. I want your job!

Eyes and Teeth

and im practically positive that the bass is all analog synth too.
along with the drums being programmed or looped from a drum machine.
not a bass guitar or drumset.
though from what i saw live and can hear on the record, i think a good amount of guitar (through a load of effects) is included

ox ice

We're updating the post guys. It does seem that we were incorrect. Thanks.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

guys (or more likely, DUDE!) calm down. writing for prefix or any other web mag is not a "job." people contribute as a way to respond to the music they enjoy, not to make a livelihood. if you would like to write reviews for prefix, there is information on this site on how you may go about doing that. regardless, there is plenty of info here to describe the music, so just take another toke and chiiiiiiill.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/longjohn/wing-of-a-roller-smalljpg.jpg longjohn

guys (or more like, DUDE!) calm down. writing for prefix or any other internet mag is not a "job." it is a pursuit people take on as a part of enjoying the music they listen to, not to earn a livelihood. if you want to write your own reviews for prefix there is info on this site how you can go about doing that. besides that, there's plenty of info here on what the songs sound like, so take another hit and chiiiiilllllll.


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