The Crazy Sounds of ‘Tobacco’

Imagine the year is 2050, and the government has crumbled into a dystopian society, inhabited by renegades and policed by the likes of Judge Dredd or a vigilante Robocop.  The soundtrack to this scene would be Tobacco’s “Ultima II Massage” a distortion filled 45-minute progressive rock album. It took four years for producer Thomas Fec, the man behind the beats of Tobacco, to craft this sixteen-track album. The end product of his ambitious work comes out pretty cohesively. This record weaves rave inspired dance beats alongside hazy synthesizer and sample-laden tracks. The raw energy creates an album that initially hits like a rush of adrenaline, and then comes down from this initial high to show a more melodic and chill second act.

Courtesy of Ghostly International Records

Courtesy of Ghostly International Records

With its varying breaks and spacey sounds, paired with many short tracks, Tobacco creates a progressive journey with this psychedelic rock experience. The first track, “Streaker,” hits the listener head on, creating tension-filled synth and guitar driven beats akin to the angst of 90s grunge rock. One downside is that the use of a vocoder and lyrics on this track, and pretty much on every song, create a somewhat robotic and monotonous sound. Although the lyrics are lackluster, the main goal is to use vocals to add another atmospheric instrumental layer to this textured experimental album.

The next track, “Good Complexion” starts out as a relaxing electronic track that lets the listener get lost for a good minute until one gets hit by the jagged samples that bring you back to the overall uneasiness and tension that this album constructs.

Despite its industrial and rough sound, “Ultima II Massage” can be fun and pop-ish with some dreamy stand out tracks. One example is “Creaming For Beginners.” This song incorporates a simple and almost soothing keyboard melody.

The most successful, and very acid-house-like track,“Blow Your Heart,” is a fun and bouncy song that is most likely to get the listener pumped up and ready to dance. The vocoder and synth beats on the track are especially successful and keep changing and growing in complexity until the song abruptly ends after three short minutes.

The highlights in this album are those moments where you may be on the verge of getting bored of a song verse, and then Tobacco adds some sort of technical sound or break that helps each track progress and ultimately sound distinct from the previous song.

With its interesting song titles and spacey experimental experience, “Ultima II Massage” lives up to its ambition, albeit with the goal of creating one of the weirdest electronic experiences you will hear this year. Overall, this album is a very grungy and dark electronic experience, and would likely accompany some sort of vigilante video game or an old B rated sci-fi action movie.

Only Recommended If: You are a die-hard progressive rock fan. This album is not for everyone.