The fourth solo outing by electronic producer, Tobacco, finds the Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman glide into an unpredictable frontier where shit sounds like it’s about to display the blue screen of death at any moment. ‘Sweatbox Dynasty’ is where Tobacco defies convention in the pursuit of manufacturing deconstructed noise; it’s the sound of Daft Punk garbling Jack and Coke for breakfast after a night of heavy drinking and too many smokes.
Harsh yet strangely euphoric, ‘Sweatbox Dynasty’ jars and contorts as much as it gently swells with a digital hue. The record’s abstract refrain and quite frankly, fucked up, personality comes directly from Tobacco’s creative process. Upon creating his new electro-mess, the digital antagonist laid down everything onto cassette before transferring it to a sampler, damaging each part in the process and resulting in a kind of broken and contorted audio version of Chinese whispers. Underneath all the coarse sonics there’s melody but Tobacco has done his best to sabotage anything that would remotely veer towards the norm. Tracks start and stop without clear rational, electronics fiercely rub against each other creating corrosive sparks along the way and to cap it off there’s a distorted vocoder that weaves its way through the album like a secret message from our robotic overlords. It’s difficult to decipher what Tobacco is saying as his vocals are heavily treated but this matters not as the additional layer of unfathomable noise just adds another ingredient to the cause. Why not throw some petrol on the fire, along with that old tyre and maybe that microwave lined with tinfoil while you’re at it…I’m just channelling my inner Tobacco!
‘Wipeth Out’ is the sound of a modem being absorbed by melting tarmac on a sweltering day, while ‘Dimensional Hum’ is true robot rock but only if Daft Punk picked up malfunctioning equipment and did their best Queens of the Stone Age homage while ‘Fantasy Trash Wave’ could have been the soundtrack to a lost 80s videogame – those games that used to be played via a tape decker and take forever to load. Capping the album off is ‘Let’s Get Worn Away’ which is essentially ‘Sweatbox Dynasty’ condensed into six minutes; the track lurches from one electronic melee to the next, traversing calmer pockets of glowing digital mist but then violently jerking into positon like a broken toy robot being aggressively tinkered with by a cumbersome child.
‘Sweatbox Dynasty’s operating system is crying out for some tech support but to iron out the bugs and remedy all the chaotic features is to dilute the album’s haphazard and abrasive charm.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams
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