The Dancing Box, the first full-length as James T. Cotton from Tadd Mullinix, known for releases under the Dabrye and SK-1 monikers, is certainly not another feather in Ghostly International’s cap. For such a consistent label, The Dancing Box is an inconsistent mishmash, consisting of a few solid singles and a lot of distorted filler.
The album, rooted in the ever-prevalent acid squelch and Detroit techno, succeeds in its intention with tracks like “The Drain” that revel in old 303 tones and classic drum samples. “Blood Red” is drawn from a similar source and stands as the other essential cut. It’s acid-influenced but slightly more modern. “That’s How I Like It” stands in the middle ground; it’s reminiscent of Plastikman but lacks the distinct cerebral element that make Richie Hawtin’s productions stand out.
From here, the album descends into an almost unlistenable place. The beats grow more and more distorted (think Atari Teenage Riot drum tones), synths get harsher and the compositions become more abstract. If Mullinix stuck to the acid-revival sounds a bit more, The Dancing Box would be more consistent and danceable. But as it stands, it’s hardly an apt title.