When Tom Fec says, “You never know how what kids are seeing today is going to come back,” the words are carried by an air of celebration, but also mystification.
Even Fec has a hard time connecting the dots between a Pittsburgh childhood watching “3-2-1 Contact” and “Garbage Pail Kids” and his current life as Tobacco, leader of the confounding electronic music confab known as Black Moth Super Rainbow.
“When I was growing up, I hated music. I hated songs. But I really liked sounds,” he says.
With Fec hunched over a vocal-twisting vocoder (and possibly masked, as at left), BMSR will perform Tuesday night at the Stage in Miami, a show that will feature songs from its sparkly fifth album, “Cobra Juicy” (Rad Cult), released last week. Fec, who records and produces BMSR material alone, tours as part of a band under the same name, which includes the pseudonymous Seven Fields of Aphelion (synths), Iffernaut (drums), Ryan Graveface (guitar) and Bullsmear (bass).
If the new album is more upbeat than its predecessors and less “weirdly internal,” it remains consistent with a Fec discography, including solo material as Tobacco, totally lacking in compromise or commercial ambition.
In Fec’s hands, and a voice fuzzed and sweetened by the vocoder, the music’s electronic chill is served warm: Songs such as 2009’s “Gold Splatter” and “Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise” pour into your ear like slowly churning analog butterscotch, and even the bouncy “Like a Sundae” and “Windshield” from “Cobra Juicy” are more dance-floor hug than Ultra Fest raver.
BMSR live shows are a tangle of pulsating rhythms, a trippy ebb and flow that washes over inscrutable lyrics often delivered in delicate genderless tones. Fec says Tuesday's show will skew toward the energetic.
"I hate playing the soft stuff live," he says. "The new album has a lot of really heavy, upbeat kind of spots in it. There won't be anything too relaxed."
To be sure, this is not everyone’s music. Fec himself began his recording life in the ’90s as the loud and crunchy Allegheny White Fish. But he has no choice: Fec says he and his evolving sound are indistinguishable.
“It’s all I have. I don’t have any kind of musical background. I don’t really know what I’m doing when I’m doing it,” says Fec, who rejects any attempt to assign him a genre. A frequent label, “psychedelic,” he says is, uh, bullsmear. “I really hate people who try to create a band based on genres. … That’s not what I’m doing. I’m doing all that I can, the only thing I can.”
Not that Fec is without influences. Beyond the TV shows of his youth, he cites the elliptical blips of Boards of Canada, as well as a fascinating trio known as the Shaggs, three sisters from New Hampshire who put out one album, a lurching tone-deaf 1969 disc titled “Philosophy of the World” that may be the worst recording ever put before the public. Or it may be the most misunderstood: Frank Zappa is said to have called the Shaggs “better than the Beatles.”
What Fec values is the album’s honesty.
“I like [BMSR recordings] to feel organic. I never learned how to play. I don’t go for precision,” he says. “When I use electronic equipment, I don’t sequence it. I just play.”
IF YOU GO
Black Moth Super Rainbow will perform 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Stage, 170 NE 38th St., in Miami. Cost: $10. Contact: 305-576-9577 or TheStageMiami.com.