New Music | Friday Roll Out: TOBACCO, Raw Poetic, Desperate Living

Where in the world? What the hell? When? How? Who? Never ‘why’. I’m not sure where the band comes from…ok, they’re from Philadelphia…but this is like it was all a dream. The noisy fuckery emanating from the band hasn’t been heard like this in decades. the four-man crew of Desperate Living has just ushered in a new age of explosiveness with its SHAME EP (Reptilian Records). The band is rhythm-heavy but more so with elevated bass levels, which is fantastic! The storm is relentless on “Commit To,” filled with dissonance and also bludgeons its listeners and you simply cannot listen to it just once. Fully developed and also flirting with dynamics, it gives you a complete idea of what the band is. Not convinced? Well, “The Truth” will make you a believer, building until it explodes with the force of fat cherub body parts falling from the sky. Don’t be distracted by the random piano in the background, it’s part of the song; gratuitous filler to keep you guessing. Are you in yet? You should be.


For what seems almost a decade now, Jason Moore has been releasing music under the alias Raw Poetic, a name which seems to suit him. Earlier this year Raw Poetic released Laminated Skies, co-produced by Damu The Fudgemunk, and without missing a step, has just released the new Space Beyond The Solar System (22nd Century Sound). The idea of the album was sparked by a conversation with Damu regarding their collective creative output as “space beyond the solar system,” and it seems it’s something that no one can contest.

Throughout Space Beyond The Solar System, the artist numbingly reaches further than he’s ever traveled before, again with the help of Damu. Raw utilizes everything at its availability as instruments, drum machines, and musicians are utilized to create masterpiece after explicit masterpiece. Here, nothing is taken for granted and we can all see that, as tracks are the embodiment of brilliance. Jazz resonates deeply throughout the album, and it really is no surprise considering the musical company that’s kept but that doesn’t mean Raw eschews a Boom Bap mentality or his complete love affair with melody and lyricism. “Freak” for example, marries string arrangements with a distorted bassline and a thick head-nodding beat, and Raw Poetic rides that wave for all it’s worth as xylophone tones ring out playing along guitar notes. This song is life itself, that’s how it seems. That is until it bleeds right into the lengthy “A Mile In My Head,” which features saxophonist Archie Shepp. If there ever was a “WTF” moment, this could be it. A driving rhythm, strengthened by dubbed vocal harmonies and Shepp’s free-flowing delivery, filling spaces with his horn where needed. Raw allows him the autonomy to blend in and out, creating an experience throughout the track.

The album is filled with a-ha surprises, and the kooky musicality of “Rustic” is one of those. The odd bass rhythm is infectious and Raw’s melodies/harmonies fit perfectly within it. It’s a complete vibe that you won’t be able to get enough of. Once you move past it, there are more surprises in store. On the 11-minute plus of “The Life In It,” there’s an encounter with something familiar, possibly a Verve/Rolling Stones sample more than halfway through the song? Maybe, or it’s not so impossible it was recreated to fit the needs of the song. I’m reaching I know. There’s a variety of things to grasp onto within the album and it just might be too much to mention within the confines of space here. With 17 tracks, patience is needed, and while there is an abundance of songs here, some range in length from over 9 minutes to 23. Aside from the assistance of Damu and Shepp, Raw Poetic pulls this off on his own and doesn’t pull punches either. Space Beyond The Solar System is a dense collection of songs but gang, gang bitch, I’m completely in! No one is going to tell me this isn’t one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums ever.

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Life is sometimes an unbearable nuisance, being forced to do things in order to survive. We can either complain about it or grin & bear it, and when life knocks you down, get back up and tell it, “You hit like a bitch.” What does this have to do with TOBACCO, the electronic outlet utilized by Thomas Fec, who has released countless albums under the moniker as well as with his group Black Moth Super Rainbow, his collaboration with Aesop Rock as Malibu Ken, and more. This time around, TOBACCO has released Skids And Angels (Rad Cult), which offers an assortment of sounds, transcends boundaries, and forces one’s complete attention from beginning to end.

While TOBACCO falls under IDM, it’s always been a genre my body could never find solace within. As the backdrop to art installations is what I’ve relegated to bands like Boards of Canada, Autechre, and even Aphex Twin. It’s never been an easy task as a music fan to sit through instrumentals that seemingly cater to self-gratuitous. But while TOBACCO may be self-indulgent, it’s never maneuvered itself through electronic music for the sake of being just electronic music. Skids… is different, shedding its skin from track to track never mimicking itself. It’s consistent though, at times offering itself on some bastardized EDM tip, while finding odd rhythms to juxtapose against a variety of atmospheric tones & notes. But then we’ll find moments that are pensive like “We’re There” as it rides a rhythmic current with a melody that never distracts, leading us hand in hand into the unknown. It just might leave you gushing like a middle school kid trying to find their place in the world.

There’s a sense of something more though, something exuberant or grandiose attempting to escape the confines of the digital world it’s been confined to. That’s “Palmveo,” dripping on staticky windows leaving everything around it refreshed and invigorated. The beat repeats itself over notes that are driftwood in an ocean of sound. It never strays from the sandy beach beats and you’ll never want it to. But it’s probably “Gift Breed” that’s confounding. The rhythmic spurts never distract from the elevated notes hit on repeat, not even when the cymbals show themselves. This one is just crazy!

Throughout Skids And Angels there’s a calm before the storm but then the storm clashes with the calmness and vice versa. It’s dramatic at times and at others it’s soothing. Whichever way we’re hit, it’s unexpected but always inviting.

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