Perhaps Tobacco’s Eric Wareheim-directed B-horror version of Eyes Wide Shut has been seared into my mind like a cattle brand. Or perhaps Black Moth Super Rainbow leader Tom Fec has come into his moderately frightening own since 2010’s Maniac Meat. Either way, Fec is definitely more burning cigarette than trippy Rainbow on Tobacco’s third LP, Ultima II Massage.
Wasting no time, Fec launches immediately into Streaker‘s repetitive demon chorus of “ride, ride, ride motherfucker ride” in a vocoder-derived voice that might as well be a potty-mouthed Robocop whispering at you through a flickering motel UHF television. Between this and the lewdness of the not-so-thinly veiled sexual allusions of the dream trance Eruption (Gonna Get My Hair Cut At The End Of The Summer), Fec makes good on that Tipper Gore-sanctioned “Explict Content” sticker designed into the cover art. Twisting, turning and acting as music foils, one harsh, one slippery and writhing, those two aforementioned singles are easily the highlights of Ultima II Massage.
Some of the tracks here sound like a teenage rampage through Sephora (Good Complexion, Lipstick Destroyer, Self Tanner). But Fec is a leftfield artist, challenging genre lines by commendably utilizing certain easy-to-mock aspects of subgenres—whether it’s the wobbles of bro-step or the minor key indulgences of mid-90s mall goth—and embracing their ugliness and lurid references from late night-only rotation on MTV. Fec’s lyrics are twisted through a voice modulator creating buzzed-out and genderless soprano-to-baritone vocals that serve, alternately, as both melody (Eruption) and percussion (Streaker).
But Tobacco hasn’t fallen completely into a rabbit hole of nose-crinkling sludge. Face Breakout sizzles with breathy oh-oh-ohs, and Beast Sting sparkles with glittering keyboard flourishes. While not as powerful as the singles, these tracks are among the album’s pleasant dancefoor-swaying sides. And even the slow burn of Creaming For Beginners adds a nice cooldown from the face-first wallop of heart pumping bass and harshly fuzzed splash cymbals. Not exactly a massage, but a wind-down from the tumult that is Ultima II Massage.