Black Moth Super Rainbow
Available on Rad Cult (October 23, 2012)
If airports are the ghost towns of the future, Black Moth
Super Rainbow is already there, playing an all night party amidst crumbling
walls, deserted storefronts, and lines of empty chairs. Mechanically processed
vocals floating through distorted synthesizer riffs somehow manage to sound
warm and friendly. Shadows shift as people filter in and the desolation is
slowly replaced with dancing. It seems entirely possible that an alien
spacecraft could land on the cracked tarmac at any moment, amidst echoes of the
In the cultural subconscious, the sounds of modular synths and vocorders are inextricably linked to spaceships, robots, and boxy white text on black computer screens. Because Black Moth Super Rainbow tends toward such instruments, the music often has a party-on-the-Starship-Enterprise vibe. Cobra Juicy is no exception. After a few seconds of rowdy pep-band percussion, the album transforms into a retro-futuristic exploration of analogue electronica. It might seem impenetrable and disorienting unless you regularly listen to Boards of Canada, Air, and Pink Floyd all at once—and it might even if you do. This is fringes of the fringes songwriting and, while BMSR has plenty of fans, the music is a creative experiment probably never intended to be understood or loved by the masses. There’s an urge to try to wrap your head around it all, but it’s only when you stop analyzing that the sounds begin to make much sense. Once the moog-era novelty wears off, we hear danceable beats, straightforward hooks, and melodies meant to delight rather than impress.
Cobra Juicy is the product of BMSR’s own transformation. Frontman Tobacco (Tom Fec) reported feeling confined by the project after 2009’s Eating Us. He went solo for a couple of albums, then got inspired to return to BMSR—without the rest of the band. He laid down several tracks, trashed most of them, and made new ones. Though the band will be joining him for the live tour, clearly this is not a man who gives in to sentimentality. Rather than nostalgia for a dead future, tracks like “Spraypaint” and “I Think I’m Evil,” seem to be coming to terms with the weirdness of now. Others, like “Psychic Love Damage” and “We Burn,” revel in the strange and sad while finding something beautiful in them. Cobra Juicy owns our culture’s dated expectations and eerie optimism, turning the history of our imagined future into a new thing that’s vulnerable and joyful, sinister and lovely all at once.