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James T. Cotton

Tadd Mullinix (sometimes known as Dabrye, here referred to as Cotton, and never to be confused with the similarly named blues guitarist) knows that retro electronics are becoming passé. It's not enough to rehash, so on his first album as Cotton, The Dancing Box, he rearranges history instead. The delirious first single, "Buck!" transplants a speedy, acid bass line onto a tribal beat with a belligerent techno attitude. Meanwhile, like Steve "Silk" Hurley's classic "Jack Your Body," "Press Your Body" doesn't scream, "This was made with a 303!" It's too busy oozing an interlocking porno moan and a female voice that repeats the title.

The Dancing Box, in fact, isn't about jacking at all. Cotton is obsessed with rhythmic mismatches, and he reaches mania on "We Still Expect Freedom," where everything slips out of sync, train wrecking and ruining the party. At least the beat's detectable; "That's How I Like It (Illusions)" is so caked in atmosphere that the (four-on-the) floor is covered in it. Arresting but often annoying, Cotton's songs generally loop longer than they should, with hiss and contrived lo-fidelity that's meant to sound ugly, not nostalgic. The Dancing Box, then, is really just tracked-up sadomasochism with nowhere to dance. -- Rich Juzwiak

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