“Sweatbox Dynasty” is the fourth solo album from Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman Thomas Fec, otherwise known as Tobacco.
Fec’s first album “Fucked Up Friends” was, an instrumental hip-hop album that bursts with personality thanks to the prominence of Fec’s longtime favorite instrument, the analogue synthesizer. His sophomore effort, “Maniac Meat” added elements of rock and featured Fec’s signature reverb and vocoder covered vocals. This record met mediocre response from both critics and fans. However, Fec really struck a note with both audiences thanks to 2014’s “Ultima II Massage,” a completely whacked out, loud and infectiously memorable electronic record.
Unfortunately, after “Ultima,” Fec seems to be running out of gas with the release of an album that feels rushed and unfinished.
After several listens, there are only two moments I remember from the entire 30-minute record: the revving synths on the chorus of the album’s opener, “Human Om” and the single, “Gods in Heat,” which admittedly is one of Tobacco’s best.
The rest of the songs on this album feel more like demos. Almost as if Tobacco was working on them until he got bored, decided to loop what he had a few times and release this as a complete album.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some solid ideas for songs on this record. Fec does his best to experiment with his sound, but the final product comes across as lazy. On “Hong,” Fec plays with glitchy electronics that he hasn’t implemented so prominently into a song before. But instead of the quirky off-kilter beats that often come out of glitch music, the track sounds as though a needle is skipping to random parts of the song. Thankfully, it’s only a minute long.
Immediately after, we get “Wipeth Out,” whose instrumental sounds as though Fec was just messing around, pressing random keys with a new synth effect and forgot that he was recording. Layered on top of this are the vocals, completely drenched in effects. In both Tobacco and BMSR, Fec has always used this same effect on his voice, and for the most part it adds to the aesthetic he’s created for himself and his band. But at this point, it’s been so long, the effects are starting to get more annoying than anything else. Here, the effects are so heavy that I couldn’t even make out what he’s saying, and don’t bother looking for lyrics online, because nobody else can understand either, they’re nowhere to be found. “Wipeth Out” is the worst of the bunch, but nearly every song’s lyrics are unintelligible.
The final song on the album, “Let’s Get Worn Away” has a novel premise behind it. It sounds like someone scanning through several radio stations. It’s a neat concept, but it’s aggravating above all else. Some of the tracks that are skipped though here are more interesting than most of the actual songs on the rest of the album. It makes me ask ‘why didn’t Tobacco spend more time fleshing out these songs?’
“Sweatbox Dynasty” was obviously a rushed effort, just a couple months before its release, Fec put out a new Black Moth Super Rainbow album, it definitely feels as though his attention was split.
There’s nothing worse than middle of the road. “Sweatbox Dynasty” isn’t a terrible album, when it’s not confusing its listeners, they’re bound to enjoy it, but as soon as it’s over they won’t be able to remember a thing about it. This is such a huge step backwards for Tobacco and it really makes you think, “What the Fec was he thinking?”