X- Altera – New Harbinger EP
Ann Arbor-based beat meister Tadd Mullinix certainly knows his onions. His albums as Dabrye have been mainstays at Cambrian Towers for years! It’s safe to say I’m a fan! So, naturally, when I heard them legends over at Sneaker Social were putting out an EP of Hardcore tinged music under his X-Altera moniker, my whistle was sufficiently whetted. I’m happy to say that New Harbinger EP lives up to that hype!
The release opens with ‘Maximum (Love Each Other)’, a proper intro track, heavy on the atmospherics and reminiscent of early prototype releases; that sense of mystery runs through it. Haunted pads sway in and out over twisted drum breaks. Filtered, phased and spraying in every direction. Dub oscillators and intermittent noises work to feed into the sense of space. The first 2 minutes are all build-up and it’s gorgeous. Although clearly influenced by the earlier Hardstep stuff, this isn’t a nostalgia trip, rather, the work of a skilled beatmaker, honing his craft onto an altogether different sound canvas. Don’t get me wrong, its dancefloor music but it retains Tadd’s rough collage/sci-fi aesthetic. At one point a proggy church organ cuts in. It only appears once and it’s fucking brilliant.
The title track has a lush rainforest ambience to it, not dissimilar to EL-B’s ‘Amazon’, but merged once again with that cold, dystopian Prototype sound. The balance between sweet and sour gives it raw power. The Fools Gold break slices in and out as if it cutting in on the crossfade and voluptuous sax runs are offset against horror synths. It’s an absolute mind melter.
The EP closes with ‘Ribbon on a Bomb’, to my mind the standout track on a standout EP, which features a huge intro that sounds like the bastard child Mole the Dipper’s ‘Ecstatic House’ and Grace Jones’ ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. This one has it all. UR style Techno meets Darkside hardcore, it’s a proper weapon m8!