Tobacco’s latest album Ultima II Massage seems to borrow equally from its creator’s other projects: Black Moth Super Rainbow and Demon Queen. That said, the album gives us the noisy, over-effected hook-after-hook songs we expect from Tobacco while allowing him to experiment with new soundscapes and concepts otherwise absent in previous albums.
Tobacco’s grittier edge (the one most turned to Demon Queen) shines through perhaps the most in “Eruption.” Its thudding bass and sexy lyrics bubble under Tobacco’s characteristic shrill and hissing lead synths. Between verse and chorus, “Eruption” flirts with a dubstep-like drop but never seems to acquiesce fully to that genre’s characteristics. Perhaps it’s the chorus’ lyrical barrage that keeps Tobacco from becoming fully classifiable in two syllables. In any case, the song feathers out with sounds we might expect on a Black Moth Super Rainbow album.
It’s in these quick shifts from edgy, bass-heavy riffs to ethereal synths that Tobacco makes Ultima II Massage stand out from its predecessors. This album proves that he is able to build climactic and coherent songs like “Dipsmack” and “Pool City, McKnight Road” (which is one of my favorite songs on the album) as well as create disjoined, jittery movements like “Face Break Out” and “Omen Classic.” It seems that Tobacco has aged well, and this album stands as a sign to his maturity both in terms of his skill and his song writing techniques.
The penultimate track, “Father Sister Berzerker,” works solidly to make Ultima II Massage dirty from the beginning to end. Clocking in at just over four minutes, the song is one of the longest on the album. However, its energy never slacks for a bar. The song begins with a trademark, fuzzy noise-filled riff that soon sprouts a crystalline synth-line to break its heaviness in half. Underneath it all, a synthetic crash counts every fourth beat. The song ends with washes of strings and bleeds into the last song of the album perfectly.
Overall, Ultima II Massage marks, I think, a movement in Tobacco’s music career. This project is no longer the Black Moth Super Rainbow offshoot Fucked Up Friends would have us believe. Instead, Tobacco seems to have carved out an identity all its own—one that has one foot in the electro daze of Black Moth Super Rainbow and one foot kicking down the door of some underground dance-club.