Suicidal Tendencies

With his sixth record as µ-Ziq, drum 'n' bass bully Mike Paradinas contemplates euthanasia

Touches of garage are all over the record, which is perhaps unsurprising. With jungle having entrenched itself into a traditionalist, insiders-only scene, U.K. garage has emerged as the popular sound of young, urban England, making it the perfect appropriative fodder for Paradinas' heretical methodology. Where in the mid-'90s Paradinas turned "proper" drum 'n' bass on its ear, fusing its trademark cadences with pensive melodies and dance-floor-clearing squalls of noise, a tune like "Johnny Mastricht" explodes garage into an alternate universe: too noisy for pirate radio, too uneven for clubs, too dense to allow room for MCs.

This, ultimately, is one of Paradinas' greatest talents: the ability to reimagine a genre, looking from the outside in. It's not so much that the styles he tackles need reinventing; thanks to newcomers like Dizzee Rascal, U.K. garage is as healthy as it's been in several years. But Paradinas, taking the role of the loyal opposition, manages to see through the traditionalists' blind spots, bringing to the music diverse influences -- the Sturm und Drang of proto-industrialists like Cabaret Voltaire, the pastoral washes of classic ambient -- that younger DJs and producers may never have heard.

Still, Paradinas is leery of dwelling too much on the implications of his revisionism, however clear the strategy seems on record. "I'm inspired by a lot of things," he avers, "but I try to make music that sounds unlike any other, a little bit unworldly."

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The sonically effusive Paradinas is just as taciturn when it comes to the matter of the record's leak. "I don't really care," he finally admits. "It could be a good excuse to get rid of the name." After a decade as the artist with a handle almost as maddeningly unpronounceable as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince's symbol, is he ready to travel under a more manageable moniker?

"I like making music," he says. "I don't really give a shit about the name it's released under, personally, but I guess it matters to distributors and things like that. They've got an investment in the name. We'll see how this one goes; if it's a complete flop, then it doesn't matter much either which way."

The strange thing is that Paradinas doesn't seem particularly peeved about the leakage of the album. In his April note on Planet Mu's Web site, he actually invited listeners to download the album and post reviews on the site's message board. I suspect that his pique is the affectation of an artist who chooses to express himself in over-the-top productions -- leaving his personal communications veiled in inscrutable sarcasm.

And so the threat to decommission his principal project comes to seem more like a perverse test of his fans' loyalty. Will they stand by him? Given his willingness to cite the review from the message board reading, in its entirety, "Total Shit," perhaps he doesn't care. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that one of the defining characteristics of Mike Paradinas, as the central persona uniting all his distinct aliases, is the appearance of not caring. Except that I don't believe him: When I mention how labor-intensive some of his drum programming sounds, he seems almost hurt. "It's not meant to sound labor-intensive, it's just meant to sound funky. But perhaps I've failed," he says.

Failed? Not by a long shot. The music, passionate and sincere, comes through loud and clear. Paradinas' public statements, though, suggest that should he tire of the game, he's got an alternate career in the dissemination of disinformation. Perhaps the United States government is hiring?

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