Hot on the heels of his acclaimed second album, Maniac Meat (Pitchfork’s “feel-weird hit of the summer,” 4/5 from Spin), TOBACCO returns with LA UTI. A companion piece to that late May release, this EP delivers three brand new tracks and four considerable reworkings, all featuring guest raps from a cross-country, cross-crew lineup of hip-hop misfits. Previous TOBACCO team-ups -- Aesop Rock appeared on Fucked Up Friends (2008), and Beck on Maniac Meat -- hinted at a world where his psychedelic synth funk scores others’ cracked musings. LA UTI wrangles Anti-Pop Consortium, Rob Sonic, Doseone, Zackey Force Funk and more to become the screwed-up, bog- dwelling rap tape TOBACCO fans always knew he had in him.
The familiar rhythmic crunch of “TV All Greasy” greets listeners, but this time APC’s Beans kicks things off with an alliterative salvo, adding his own odd imagery to the analog beat stew. Likewise, “Lick the Witch” gets worked over by the propulsive flow of Def Jux’s Rob Sonic, while Baltimore resident and Wham City associate Height lays down some lyrical boom-bap over “Sweatmother.” Maniac Meat’s “Unholy Demon Rhythms” gets the strangest rebirth, here featuring the Mooninite-style toasting of a mysterious entity known only as Icicle Frog.
Scattered throughout are the new ones, crusty sludge-slathered bangers custom made for their vocalists. TOBACCO’s own ghostly crooning offsets the maximalist style-hopping of Doseone (Subtle, Themselves) on the relatively minimal track “The Injury.” Chicago’s Serengeti gets “2 Thick Scoops” of clanging drums and distorted synth throb to accompany his associative doom rap. And closer “Lamborghini Meltdown,” featuring Tuscon up-and-comer Zackey Force Funk, is the perfect collaboration, finding the falsetto’d soul vocals of the Machina Muerte member buttressed by a something that’s equal parts strip club sleaze, gangsta jam and art-house noir.
As for the meaning behind the bizarre acronym, LA UTI, that titles this EP, some things are better left to the imagination.
* download card included with all vinyl orders of this release.