Unlike the cosmogonies Coltrane telescoped through saxophones on Interstellar Space and Ascension being disdained in Down Beat, or Lou Reed releasing Metal Machine Music to scourge his reputed name into a shit-feedback leer, noise is no longer just preordained to polemics. Whereas then noise may have been seen as defying the presumption of demographics—noise didn’t have a vestibule much less a lobby in the polls—what’s developed in noise is a malleable grey area that marks the relationship between pop and the avant-garde. Pop has always been defined by acculturating a music into a market and then making that market the standard for the music; but pop has never entirely dis-seized hip-hop. Because, though, many a hip-hop artist has elevated their celebrity and influence by cosigning with pop, pop still knows It never introduced any hip-hop of quality, unless It believes its hagiography of Vanilla Ice to be accurate.
In lieu pop kept its fingers in the familiar pots of sexually updating tenor boys to Timbaland beats, invoking countless bands from a census agreement on neon-paint and ‘”Dani California” was good,’ shilling the Grammys, or, contenting Itself with some of the credit when Wagnerian geniuses like Kanye West know how to apply It to their vision. But: Pop has now firmly appended itself to Trap. With creepy backmaskings, prodding synths, weird arrangements, interpolated effects—vocal and otherwise—and words whose emphasis is narcotically stumbleStomped, Trap has come closest to—only sonically—intimating the mainstream with the avant-garde. Because of trap, clipping songs made from beats that catabolize their bodies into frizzled impulses and have vocal rhythms process them into a whole again sound nearly radio friendly. It’s also why Tobacco’s Sweatbox Dynasty could either be a moderately eclectic album of sad and nervously engendered synths and fuzz or of a few bangers and a few slow jams that wouldn’t terribly confuse the average college Pandora party.
“Gods in Heat” seems to straddle the vacillation the most successfully. It’s still shrouded in fuzz and cantankerous tape, but it also applies accidentals that make your heart feel like your favorite artificial candy melting its taste in your chest, and a nice but eerie voice whose verse is like a bridge gazing to the distance like a pier. I don’t know what it’s singing, it’s so defaulted to a wisp, but I do know (or can presume) it was expressly purposed to insinuate words such as “heart,” “hard,” “sun” and “nahnahnanana.” Words whose ubiquity in pop are almost like the hooks upholding the influence of Its past.
Throughout the album the pop and not-so-pop elements are, however, not used as counterpoint to emphasize one or the other; they are commorient, fading into the other. As the two elements continue to elide they announce a lament for the present. Tobacco ends the album in a long wash of fuzz breaking the album into something temporal and already gone (with one oddly placed bass jitter ineffectually trying to reclaim its life). He does so to acknowledge he’s accepted whatever the next permutations of music may be, but he’s still got his feedback implying it’s all tied through the same loop of the past and the futures always fading present.