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Super-Cassette - Digital image

Super-Cassette - Digital


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Tadd Mullinix returns to his Dabrye alias for Super-Cassette, his first release of new material since 2018. Comprised of intentionally instrumental hip-hop tracks, referential yet modern, it's both a back-to-basics beat tape and a multi-styled update to the minimalist sound he’s crafted since his breakthrough 2001 One/Three album on Ghostly International. Fans have long hoped that he would revisit this instrumental mode, and the Michigan native responds with a satisfying batch from the lab, applying what he knows now to the formative sound that first propelled him into the scene over two decades ago. Always interested in the space between the beats, here Mullinix shapes a hiss-filled quietness that pulls from drum and bass intros, marital arts VHS tapes, early electro-acoustic composition, and recent forays into film scoring and library music. Titled Super-Cassette, a nod to the Manga comics and blank tapes stacked on his studio floor, the album finds Mullinix loose and inventive, playfully reaffirming his superpower as Dabrye.
Since the release of his trilogy-completing Three/Three, which featured MCs such as DOOM, Ghostface Killah, and Danny Brown, alongside a retrospective box set, Mullinix has operated mostly at home, becoming a new father and favoring studio work and other aliases (JTC, Charles Manier) over live performance. In a reflective headspace, he started sampling from a tape he made in high school, returning to old techniques, flipping the reel backward, bouncing and re-pitching across a Casio SK-1, delay pedals, and tracker software. Like muscle memory, strengthened by knowledge and experience, Mullinix employs the cassette as his instrument. At first blush, it may scan as loop music, but over time, the sensation lands more linear; every measure brings a slight variation, the rhythms double, and the grooves deepen.
The opener, "The Most Deliciousest," flexes a golden-era boom-bap feel informed by DJ PNS of the Molemen crew and Pete Rock. Horns and barely perceptible chatter echo slightly out of pitch in the distance; Mullinix cites the bleed that happens when dubbing over cassettes: "You record silence over it, but you still hear the ghost."
For "Toiler On The Creek," Mullinix leans into his soundtrack side, mapping a pattern of taps, dings, buzzes, and other environmental artifacts into something that simply bumps. He thanks Peter Dale, his former boss at Ann Arbor's Encore Records, in the album credits. A young Tadd and coworkers used to listen to zany post-war era electronic albums in the store as Dale explained the qualities of silence, tension, and attention-holding sonic flourishes.
"Bug Copped Village Gini" captures the vibe of a labyrinthine mission: Mullinix recalls a trip to his wife's home country of Armenia, where they searched the ancient monasteries and villages for the best-kept gini (Armenian for wine). Scored by street whistles, rolling organ, and a smooth drum break, the scene unfolds, stutters, and blurs with a hypnotic effect. "Fantastic Clouds" is one of several moments that ruminate over atmospheric experimentation, lending the universe a sense of negative space.
When he's not making music, Mullinix collects private press comics, a community and dialect he parallels to tape culture. With Super-Cassette, he draws listeners in with an illustrator’s detail and an archivist’s depth. Twenty-plus years into his renowned run, his commitment to the character of a sound remains unmatched.