Album Review: Ultima II Massage

Tom Fec’s alter ego Tobacco has always been mysteriously frightening. His approach to music composition is his own unique formula that he’s been fine-tuning since high school. It’s dirty, uncompromising, and often times euphoric. Fec’s other project, Black Moth Super Rainbow, released Cobra Juicy in 2012. That near-perfect record landed at #2 on our favorites of 2012 list and still earns repeat listens two years later. With Ultima II Massage, Tobacco presents his most wonderfully grotesque collection of heavily distorted lullabies to date. Album opener “Streaker” has been around for a few years, and Fec formally releases one of his most abrasive tracks to date as an introduction to Ultima. Fec’s vocoder is set to ‘deranged’ as the track’s lyrics repeat “run, motherfucker, run.” It’s a sign of things to come, and you can’t say he didn’t warn you. As frightening of an opening track as “Streaker” may sound, Eric Wareheim’s (Tim and Eric) visual interpretation of the Ultima II Massage universe might be the creepiest (NSFW) video of 2014:

Standout tracks include “Self-Tanner” and “Father Sister Berzerker.” The former features the copulation of early lo-fi BMSR with Tobacco’s more evolved reliance on synth and guitar. The sub-3-minute track presents a minimalist vibe at first, but 4-5 layered synths reveal themselves on repeat listens. The latter track may be the most intricate and realized piece on the album. It fits layers of pulsating synth melodies, and probably the strongest hook on the record, over intermittently changing beats. Fec said that he “wanted to push each song just enough, so that even when the album’s at its wildest, it’s something you can zone out to.” That’s what tracks like “Beast Sting,” “Pool City, McKnight Road,” and “The Touch from Within” are meant to do here. “Pool City, McKnight Road” is the best track on the record for me and finds itself on my shortlist for favorite tracks of 2014. Tobacco makes synth music, and he saves his best here. Ultima II Massage is a bizarre ride not meant for the weak of heart and one of our favorite albums of 2014.

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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