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Hiphop producers have been plundering psych-rock wax for years now, so it's about time psych-rock musicians started making them some hiphop. Thus the balance of the universe is maintained. A sterling case in point for the latter scenario is Tobacco, creative catalyst for Pittsburgh's excellent Black Moth Super Rainbow.

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On his anticon debut, Fucked Up Friends, Tobacco finds—against great odds—new wrinkles in hiphop's funk foundations. While the beats on these 16 tracks solidly fall in the old-school tradition, Tobacco cleverly ruptures and then festoons these evergreen rhythms in an array of eccentricky analog-synth tones that add a beguiling retro-futurist mystique to everything here. It's as if '60s electronic-music innovators Mort Garson and Bruce Haack decided to get on the good foot. Tobacco's synths radiate both alluring and alien textures, ranging from fried-synapse crispy to slurred purrs to warped, calliope-like arabesques. As for the rest, I would need to resort to onomatopoeia to do them justice.

Fucked Up Friends is mostly instrumental, although Tobacco sometimes sings through a device that makes his voice sound oozy and distant, and Definitive Jux rapper Aesop Rock rolls through on the extroverted Cubist funk of "Dirt" to wax serpentine and surrealistic, as usual. The disc's strongest cuts, however, appear first and last. "Street Trash" is as funky as a crack-ho hook-up next to a Dumpster, with dirty, neon synth-string blares and loads of filthy fuzz bass forming an overwhelming immersion in Tobacco's highly tactile sound world. Meanwhile, album closer "Grease Wizard" accelerates the tempo to near-disco pace while strutting to flamboyantly stardusted keyboard timbres and a synth-bass line Chromeo would cream for. These two tracks alone are so great they make me want to open a club in honor of them. recommended

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