An airlock slams shut, enclosing you in a metallic chamber. Modules canvas the wall in front of you. After sitting in front of the control panel, you notice one glowing button in the far corner. You press it, and the modules whirr with life. Orbs of varying sizes and colors populate the largest screen. You select one with your cursor, and the room is filled with unfamiliar sounds. Your eyes are drawn to the words at the very top of the modules: “Interplanetary Radio” . . .
Artists tend to fall under one of two categories: those that transparently pour themselves into their creations, and those that obscure their personas in ways that allow the art to take on a personality of its own. The latter is admirable, requiring a degree of selflessness, and is practiced by none more so than the Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman. Sweatbox Dynasty is the newest full-length from Thomas Fec as Tobacco.
Fec specializes in a woozy, off-kilter breed of psychedelic pop with sinister flavors. These songs expertly ride the threshold between the mellifluous and the deranged, with mechanical rhythms, bubbling arpeggiators, and glossy synth melodies awash in cascades of distortion. At the core is Fec himself, with vocals processed by vocoder, talk box, and so many effects and filters that they resemble computerized alien incantations.
When listening to the radio, have you ever tuned the dial betwixt disparate-sounding stations, producing something uniquely strange and beautiful at the same time? Sweatbox Dynasty is akin to this experience. Abrupt transitions, transmission static, and otherworldly atmosphere never sounded so mysteriously inviting, so enticing, so individualistic. If you’re seeking off-kilter, psychedelic pop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)