- Adam Mitchell has charted a singular path through two decades of techno. From early warehouse parties in Brooklyn to his more recent Traversable Wormholes records, he has followed his muse sincerely, even when his style leaves him at odds with the wider scene. Sometimes his work chimes with the zeitgeist, sometimes not. What is always guaranteed is that it comes from the heart.
Irreformable, Mitchell's first album as Adam X in six years, arrives at a time when the industrial-influenced techno that he helped pioneer happens to be fashionable. Even so, he makes us wait for a blast of the fist-pumping, EBM-tinged uproar with which the Adam X moniker is most closely associated. "Interchanges" and "Catenary," though pregnant with threat, are slow and limber. By "Binary Possession," however, we are firmly in fast 'n furious, bone-crunching mode. Mitchell's horrific vocal helps lend that track a distinct leather-gloves-and-mirror-shades feel, while "On The Verge Of Decimation" (all siren tones and metal-on-metal textures) takes a tunnelling, slowly-evolving route to the same point: transcendent physical punishment.
"Sheer Insanity" is a rubbery, reverb-soaked pile-driver, similar in spirit to the best moments from Perc's The Power & The Glory. Wild as they often are, however, compared to the most truly demented music emerging from the outer-fringes of noise/techno, most of the tracks on Irreformable seem reined in for the sake of dance floor functionality. The title track, meanwhile—in contrast to the album's other, rather hackneyed sample references to UFOs, electrical currents and faraway galaxies—takes one of dance music's most overused ideas, a sample of a righteous African-American preacher, and deploys it to effectively convey a genuine sense of anger.
After so much everything-in-the-red intensity, the closing four tracks are full of neat ideas ("Small Black Object" is a lovely confection of distortion and atonal synths), but don't quite reach the same heights. Nonetheless, Irreformable is a lot of fun. This is techno stripped of the laptop production grid and transformed into a living, breathing, chaotic entity. We will always need more of that.
03. Binary Possession
04. On The Verge Of Decimation
05. Sheer Insanity
07. In A Race Against Time
08. Tornado Warning
09. It's All Relative
10. Small Black Object