Nostalgia is a funny thing. It tends to divide the cynics from the unicorn-hugging life-lovers pretty quickly. So get ready to grunt derisively or giggle excitedly when I tell you that Machines Hate Me is an instrumental ode to the sounds of Nintendo circa 1990. For yours truly it’s a warm, happy tug on the heartstrings.
‘Eternia’, the album’s first, is also the album’s best. It’s 8-bit euphoria; the soundtrack to the video game you never got the chance to play. ‘Life Force’, lyricless, is somehow an ode to Struggling Against The Odds And Surviving. Or maybe it’s a reminder of the time I nearly finished R-Type. That’s the issue the heart of the interesting place this album will take many of us: are we making new memories here or listening to whispers from the distant past?
“What’s new from Nintendo?” is posed rhetorically at one point. Our answer is easy: not this album. Drums, and a hint of West Coast swagger aside, Machines Hate Me is a trip back in time for those of a certain age. The newness is only the arrangement, the juxtaposition of video game sounds and eclectic, abstract samples (Method Man pops up at one point (?)).
I spoke earlier about cynic/optimist polarisation, but that’s not the real dichotomy here. It’s more an age thing. There are those who would ask Doc Brown to take us back to the time when these sounds were the white noise of our lives. And there are those who have no idea who Doc Brown is. This is music for the former.