- Tadd Mullinix combines jungle, drum & bass and techno on this expertly executed full-length.
- Tadd Mullinix has a voracious appetite for dance music. It's easy to be eclectic, but the detail and flair in his many aliases is tinted with obsession. He manages to make decades-old genres sound vibrant, from the industrial and EBM of Charles Manier to the acid house and techno of JTC. Mullinix has also displayed a fervent passion for early jungle, hardcore and drum & bass. Soundmurderer & SK-1, his collaboration with Todd Osborn, was an extraordinary distillation of ragga jungle's ruffneck vibe. Now Mullinix is rekindling his exploration of jungle as X-Altera, but this self-titled album also celebrates the open-ended nature of '90s dance music, with nods to techno and drum & bass.
At times techno is the main ingredient, as on the gorgeous back-room roll of "Parallel Rites (Kepler-452b)," which comes which comes on with the elegiac melodies of B12 and the lazy breaks of The Black Dog. The jazzy synths fluttering over the top of "Impossible" would be worthy of Mike Banks's nimble programming. The dominant flavour, though, is breakbeat in all its forms. On "Check Out The Bass," the ghost of early Good Looking Records is brought back to life—in fact, LTJ Bukem, PFM and Photek's influence can be felt all over the album, as can the multi-genre adventures of 4 Hero and Nu Era.
For all its reference points, X-Altera is a singular piece of work. The opening track, "Compound Extraprotus," is a whirling suite that moves through at least three different sections on its time-slipping journey through crunchy breaks, swooping pads and rave samples. Mullinix takes a blunt approach to chopping his ingredients. Sometimes the mélange feels messy, as bongo licks, sub bass, diva vocal fragments, hoover stabs and drum loops vie for space. But the chaotic mix has all the rugged charm of the source material.
Sonic overload is a common thread in Mullinix's work. Charles Manier tracks drip with excess layers; early James T. Cotton was maximal acid in the minimal techno era. To some that might be off-putting. His music's lack of tracky structures and spacious mixdowns might keep it out of some record bags (bar the more streamlined JTC material), but it's what gives his music such personality. In the case of X-Altera, it's a delight to pick out everything going on, however much it might send you in a tailspin.
While the jungle influences may be the most consistent, what makes X-Altera great is the absolute free-for-all on musical styles. There's a healthy dose of 2-step on "Shoreline (Can't Understand)," but here musical history is rewritten as though the genre drew from hardcore rather than US garage. As respectful as Mullinix is to his influences, he doesn't treat them as untouchable. He gets rough with the components, less a museum curator than a collage artist. Above all, X-Altera shows Mullinix to be a passionate dance music scholar.
01. Compound Extraprotus
02. Check Out The Bass
03. Pasco Richey Tiger
04. Parallel Rites (Kepler-452b)
05. In My Life
07. Holotyd Neo-Optika
08. Shoreline (Can't Understand)
10. Passivity Fields
11. Link Stratum Of Archipelagos (Digital Bonus)