First there was Pierre Henry's musique concrète, then Air's synthesized come-on, then M83's galactic shoegaze… and now there's Tobacco. To be fair, the Black Moth Super Rainbow mastermind isn't a Francophile so much as a beat-maker with a handful of other obsessions that make his music the next link in that evolutionary chain. The first is grit. Whether drum, synth, or sampled flute, his source materials sound like they were pulled out of wet earth. The second is melody. Like his forbears (minus Henry), Tobacco prefers to keep things ethereal and sweet, layered but uncomplicated, and heavily affected. The final, and most forward, is bigness. Ambient passages and turntable effects are kept minimal, while everything else about Fucked Up Friends is gigantic. The opener "Street Trash" vaults out of the gate with synthesizers surging, and "Side 8" sounds medieval, like something that needs to be fought off with a broadsword. Even "Yum Yum Cult," which in other hands would be slight psychedelia, is expansive and warm, and kept to a tight minute so "Berries That Burn" can come in and slay. Where Tobacco does employ minutiae (the warbly drum loop at the beginning and middle of "Hawker Boat," for instance), it's only to build anticipation for maximal, throbbing beats. A rock-solid Aesop Rock cameo is icing atop this sorely overlooked platter, which easily one of 2008's best driving records.
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