Invitations to Hell


Before anybody jumps to the wrong conclusion about Mr. Dibbs, let’s get one thing straight. Cincinnati’s leading turntablist–devil child is not on some Eminem dynamite-your-dick-and-get-in-Rolling-Stone
-for-the-fourth-time-since-February trip. Mr. Dibbs is a whiteboy freakshow for sure, but he’s an undertheradar Howard Hughes type freak who, with the help of his two kids and 23-member 1200 Hobos crew, plots world domination from his River City bunker. In the words of Dibbs’s fellow Hobo, Staten Islandite DJ Signify, he’s “a crazy genius hick.”

The first time I called Dibbs on the phone, he was busy “emancipating his colon,” and the second time he was watching Jeffersons reruns and called me “Taco Lips,” “Howlin’ Goat,” and “Goat-Raping Bastard.” Talk him up even for just a few minutes and he’ll tell you that he drinks bleach straight out the bottle and that he’s already figured out a way of getting his own Behind the Music episode—he’ll ruin his career by injecting himself with gasoline.

None of this should be surprising coming from a guy who gives tracks on his three Unearthed breakbeat volumes names like “Goat Cock” and “Parkey Snot.” The needle-drop effects he excavates, far from the usual James Brown shouts or tone-test lectures, include demonic Dracula laughs, creepy witchy coos, and a child screaming “Mommy!”

As part of the DJ-producer trio Presage, Dibbs is in full social-paranoia mode, scratching and juggling to the rhythms of media terrorism and Illuminati occultism. When it’s not sounding like a bigger, darker knockoff of Negativland, the group’s debut Outer Perimeter finds the three conspiracy theorists running Jello Biafra diatribes about martial law through Sabbath-metal, and tweaking violin squeals and tuba hiccups over stuttering, apocalyptic beats.

Of course, there’s also Dibbs’s psycho phone message that shows up as an “interlude” on Peanut Butter Wolf’s My Vinyl Weighs a Ton: “Hey Peanut Butter. Dibbs. If I ever catch you snooping around my crates again, I’m gonna beat the shit out of you. And that’s the fucking bottom line. On a side note, I found that Norwegian pig monkey blood lust break you were looking for. Hit me back, peace.”

Dibbs’s jerky-boy madness would be forgettable shock value if his skills as a wax manipulator and stylus scribbler weren’t so unimpeachable. Throw on last year’s Four Ways To Rock 12-inch “231 Ways To Fry an Egg” and you hear him in top grimy diabolical form, not just piecing together disparate fragments or matching disconnected beats, but actually composing them into a seamless, idea-laced whole—each part tying into a single theme. For the length of an entire side, Dibbs zeroes in on the electric blues and keeps his arsenal limited to roadhouse and jukejoint essentials: organ swoons, snapping snares, greasy harmonica wails, and chopped-up Buddy Guy–style solos.

Which brings us to another of Dibbs’s multiple personalities: a Technics 1200 blues hound with a Mississippi Delta fetish. His latest 12-inch, “30th Song,” is a dazzling blues spectacle of turntable hoodoo that builds off of his notorious juggle of Muddy Waters’s “Mannish Boy” on his Turntable Scientifics mixtape. On the cassette, Dibbs sustained Waters’s “ohhh yeahhh” moan in a deft series of cross fades before flutter-scratching it into a blur. Then he repeatedly looped the song’s lead guitar-pluck over back-and-forth drops of its trademark harp stomp, until all that was left was a spinning echo chamber of recombined blues howling. On “30th Song,” he picks up where the Muddy juggle left off, but throws in Robert Johnson. Appropriately subtitled “The River City Scratch Assassin Meets the Duck Delta Bound,” it has instant-legend status written all over it. Dibbs violently cuts up “Hellhound on My Trail” and lays it down over a jagged bed of bits from “Mannish Boy.” He boomerangs between “Hellhound” verses, wave after wave of Johnson’s aching cries, and quick slaps of warbled bottleneck guitar.

But while Dibbs may get back to facing his own hellhounds on the next Presage 12-inch, “Invitation to Hell”—where his trio flips off an army of damnation Bible-thumpers— my guess is that he has already met the Devil. He probably called Satan a “goat-raping bastard,” then shot up some high-octane gasoline. Then he headed right back to Cincinnati, where he belongs.