Chiptune music seems destined to be a niche, a branch of music reserved for a certain kind of lovable basement-dwelling nerd. Incorporating these tinny synths, however, has become something of a movement in dance music, appropriated by names as wide ranging as Ikonika, Flying Lotus and Zomby. L.A.'s Dibiase does not make chiptune music, though Machines Hate Me is too scattered to be any one thing for more than a few moments. Rather, his stomping and cartoonish beats are perfectly aligned with the choppy hip-hop of his Los Angeles contemporaries, hurried collages indebted to Prefuse 73 and Daedelus.
Despite all this, it's safe to say that 8-bit sounds are the dominant element in Dibiase's melting pot of styles; his tracks centre around tiny pixellated cores that thump in stop-frame motion as elaborate steel wireframes are built around each two-minute blip, sometimes caging in the shrill trills and other times protruding through. The result is a rather seamless compound of funk-infused hip-hop and chiptune that nimbly avoids novelty—not an easy thing to do when you're dealing with music that could have at least partially come out of a Nintendo circa 1985.
Each song is overstuffed with ideas. It's a 38-minute LP that feels much longer—a good thing, in this case. Dibiase wisely avoids the schizophrenic channel-skipping to which his peers are so often prone, building tunes armed with an exacting focus, even when it seems like brilliant ideas are defiantly tossed off. The crunchy demolition of "Atombreakin" acts a sort of microcosm for the entire album, as it crumbles and collects into a gorgeous decayed dust that simply blows away in seconds, a tantalizingly brief outro.
Dibiase finds time to explore other genres in these 38 minutes: "Skullcrack" is a formidable take on dubstep, where bubbly gurgles of squelching bass are infected with 8-bit parasites which replicate and explode in shrieking spore clouds. Fellow Los Angeles native Devonwho collaborates on another highlight, "Renegade Star," a nauseously lurching bit of dive-bombing arcade-funk that overloads the frequency spectrum with both its violently elevated levels and thick, syrupy body. Elsewhere he approaches saturation point with nostalgia, as on his refix of The Price is Right theme (seriously). Tracks like "Three Way Mirrors" and "Lumberjack" that tap into the seemingly endless well of chillwave-associated memory haze muzak, but these experiments work so well you're more likely to nod your head than roll your eyes.
There's a brief glimpse of what happens when chiptune takes over as the album's identity briefly shifts halfway through, heralded by a voiceover that asks "What will the future bring from Nintendo?" Evidently, the future holds a time warp, as the thundering boom-bap is finally relegated to the background and his glorious NES is allowed to take the forefront, fuzzy clouded bass and all. Of course, it only lasts for a few moments before it's diced up like everything else, but it and following track "Clocked Out" (a dramatic synth odyssey that sounds like funked-out Mega Man music) are a window into Dibiase's imagined parallel universe. For now he'll have to stick to ours, but he might as well because no one else knows how to blend waxy chiptune with earthy funk like he can.
Tracklist: Dibiase - Machines Hate Me01. Eternia
02. Phantom Power
03. Dusty Lungz
06. Neighborhood Watch
08. Circuit Breakin
09. Clocked Out
11. Price Is Righteous
12. Life Force
13. 3 Way Mirrors
14. Renegade Slap (Devonwho Collab)
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