X-Altera: 10 essential rugged breaks

Electronic producer and Ann Arbor native Tadd Mullinix is perhaps best known for his contribution to hip hop and the underground beat scene as Dabrye, an alias that after an 11-year hiatus, resurfaced at the end of 2017 with Three/Three, his fourth full-length under the pseudonym.

A staple of the Ghostly International label, Mullinix’ latest project as X-Altera adds yet another identity to his expansive repertoire. Inspired by a point in the UK hardcore continuum where it was transitioning into jungle, Mullinix’ sounds as X-Altera recall his early breakbeat experiments as one half of Soundmurderer & SK-1, yet also nod towards his treasured love for the deep, melodic techno made in Detroit and London throughout the ’90s.

Looking to the past to find new ways of moving forward, X-Altera’s debut album marks a fresh reinvention for Mullinix and another successful turn for such an adaptable producer. Speaking with him, the Michigan producer recalls some of his early discoveries into the worlds of jungle, hardcore and breaks, picking out classics produced by Dego, Mark Pritchard, Dillinja and more.

1. Code 071 – A London Sumtin’ (Tek 9 Remix)

A classic by the legend, Dego, under one of his many aliases. Chopping the amen break into staccato swing-time is a Tek 9 trademark of this era and I especially love the execution here.

2. Chaos & Julia Set – Natural High

Pritchard is a massive influence. Of his repertory, this one ranks up there with Chameleon’s rework of Amenity. It’s a flawless composition of light-to-dark passages and a favorite rugged break.

3. Dillinja – Deadly Deep Subs

The plunging bass and Detroit techno samples of Dillinja’s widely beloved “Deadly Deep Subs” make it especially relevant to X-Altera.

4. A Guy Called Gerald – Darker Than I Should Be

A Guy Called Gerald pairs an SH-101 staccato with his horn-and-strings motif in a way reminiscent of 808 State favorites. Quite a few versions of this track exist and I love them all.

5. Shy FX – Who Run Tings?

My High School bud brought back a mixtape from NYC that changed my life. It had Adam F’s “Circles”, Goldie’s “Angel”, Kemet Crew’s “The Box Re-Opens”…so many greats. This was the jungle highlight. Thunder sounds at breakdowns and the Amen break is rarely chopped or stretched with more fury.

6. Majistrate – Tell Me

I admire how Majistrate came with dubwise simplicity and how deeply the reflections are obscured and break up under heavy bass. All the right elements.

7. Undercover Agent – Oh Gosh (Droppin’ Science Remix)

This rework of Oh Gosh! is my favorite work by Danny Breaks aka Droppin’ Science. A Detroit local legend, Rotator, packed his sets with the most insane records and this one really stuck to me.

8. Studio 2 – Who Jah Bless

The bass in Who Jah Bless, among other elements, strikes me as being relevant to Shut Up & Dance/Red Light’s sound. It’s impossible for me to select a Red Light classic, and apparently “Bastards” is mired in controversy, so I think it’s important to mention them as original pioneers of this sound. Still, this classic is so idiosyncratic and special.

9. Jonny L -This Time Cool Dub

This one by Jonny L was also played HARD by Rotator. It’s masterfully doubled, reversed, filtered, and time-stretched Amens is why I had to include it among my top 10.

10. 4 Hero (Project A-KO) – Afterglow Pt 1 & 2

Finally, I send you off with The Afterglow. In a track, 4 Hero offer a bit of everything indicative of the influence and quality of Reinforced’s vanguardism.

X-Altera is out now on Ghostly International. 

Order it here.

Featured Image: Brett Carlson

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