Jeff Mills vs The Modern Condition
As he enters his 50s, Mills’ release schedule remains regular, though his later years have seen him increasingly fixated with the delicacies of the cosmos – his new album, The Jungle Planet, is inspired by the dreams of Charles Darwin and the idea of “the planet of planets”. It’s not been the easiest eighteen months for Mills: he retired his eclectic alter-ego The Wizard after 2012′s Detroit Electronic Music Festival, claiming that modern crowds didn’t understand it, and earlier this year he went viral after an Italian fan threw sunglasses at him during a live set. As he explained to FACT’s Tom Lea on the eve of his London appearance this weekend, however, when you’re used to club shootings and gang fights, it’s water off a duck’s back.
So The Jungle Planet is the latest instalment in your Sleeper Wakes series…
The Jungle Planet is the fifth chapter in the Sleeper Wakes series. It tells of a story about a time when Earth is reconditioned by guardian aliens for the next growth cycle and there is only one last human left. He desperately travels to only place where he might find the residue of human dreams, Charles Darwin’s dreams in particular, in hopes of jump starting human evolution again. He goes to a planet where the concept of humans was theorised and created. The story depicts his experience on this jungle-like planet.
Why Darwin in particular?
Because of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and its basic mechanism of human evolution. To accumulate such a theory, there must have been a large amount of discussion, debate and pondering about whether it made sense based on the information he had before him of where humans comes from. But these are assumed aspects of his work and matters during daytime hours, what his dreams. What might he have imagined in another state of consciousness? As someone that has spent thousands and thousands of hours thinking about evolution, surely he must have dreamt about its logic as well. Perhaps there were things he knew what he could not explain to the scientific community of that time.
With each chapter, I’d explored different recording techniques. On this one, I focused mainly on multi-levels of low and sub bass frequencies in order to create more depth than the other releases. For this, the sound level was purposely reduced so that not only can the notes and sound voices of the music be heard in a fuller dynamic, but also the slight vibrations that come from the sound ringing inside keyboards and machines I used. I was searching to find sound in addition to music. I wanted to effectively describe the contents of the story that enclosed in the CD album. The concept and creative perspective of this album is about the exoticism of new discoveries. The handling of unknown circumstances and the attention to sound representation.
That’s interesting about the vibrations inside keyboards and machines – did you capture them with external mics and then use them as ambiance?
Yes. That’s correct.
And when you talk about unknown circumstances, I guess that applies both those sounds and the concept of being on a new planet?
The possibility of trying new ways is really the purpose of these Sleeper Wakes albums. It’s an opportunity to push back against the notions that ‘all dance music sounds the same’ or ‘techno music isn’t good for anything but dancing’. The probable truth could be that more people are thinking about other planets than anytime in our history, maybe even more than thoughts about techno music. What I was hoping for with The Jungle Planet was to bring out the field recordings of electronic instruments.
What comes first for you at this point, the concept or the music?
The story comes first, then the idea of how to translate it. Whether by sound, by video or any other medium. After that’s established, I find the best format – vinyl 12″, CD, DVD, USB – that will allow me to convey the nature of the story. In this case ofJungle Planet, we used a character in the Jungle Planet story, a black cube animal for designing the actual album. The album is a USB black cube.
You’ve used USBs in the past, on the Axis retrospective. What is it about them that appeals, and are you still attached to vinyl and CD?
What I’m most interested in USB formats are the design possibilities of the item itself. With this format, its possible to conceal the information into something more relevant to the concept of the album. Reshaping the ideas of how music can be presented adds to the creative process and leans more towards musical product design and sound plastic art. For The Jungle Planet, we’ve created a black cube shaped USB, where the information key slips out and away from it. As an object, it serves as a reminder of the concept album, but doesn’t necessarily have to be placed, positioned and kept with other albums or in a certain area of one’s living space. Instead, it can remain in view within your living environment and only the owner knows its contents.
via : factmag.com
Seven classic mixes from Jeff Mills’ late-’80s Detroit radio show
The seven half-hour sets were taken from Mills’ WLJB Detroit radio show between 1986 and 1989, which he presented under his pseudonym The Wizard. German blog Nerdcore, who kindly uploaded the mixes, reckon they were probably recorded straight to cassette – hence the slightly iffy audio quality.