Jeff Mills - Exhibitionist (React)
By Jonas Andersson
Jeff Mills is bold in his statements about music and life....
"We are at a turning point in the history of Techno music," he claims (according to weekly newsletter Skrufff-E). "If the younger generation has less interest in supporting music then...why don't Techno labels begin to create and release music targeted to an older generation?" he asks.
Yeah, dad techno. sounds like great fun to me!
In Anil's interview with the slim godfather of Techno, Mills continues along the same lines. Techno has admittedly created its own legend, its own noblesse oblige; undoubtedly, Mills is the epicentre of this more or less self-proclaimed ancestry. He shuns the surface show that contemporary mainstream Techno has become: "Most tunes aren't worth listening to beyond like half a minute...I just pick out the best parts and relate them to the next tune....you know, programming is a hard skill to master....there's almost a psychology to it....pre-turntable era you had to segment your mind....think about a sequence rather than a mix....this is what i was taught....younger DJ's don't know how to do that."
Is the brand new 'Exhibitionist' mix CD and DVD the logical corollary of these ideas? Being the first official mix CD by the man in eight years, time has undoubtedly had its turn. We're talking Michael Jackson-esque proportions here; decades of fermenting time for every conceptual album idea to bloom. What's next? Corporate-sponsored world tours with ticket prices at £50 to guarantee the safe, clean family entertainment we all want as responsible consumers of qualitative audiovisual content?
Yes, beguilers and sceptics out there, Techno has grown old. It now comes with specially designed DVD packages like this (the mix CD comes with a DVD where you can watch Mills DJ forever and ever until judgment day comes, the cows have all come home to watch Teletubbies and come down on their ketamine, and everyone's left the party except Jeff and Sheikh who's obviously stayed to interview Jeff about what he actually thinks about "labels such like Orthlong Musork and the whole new folktronica scene" plus a whole bunch of other Absorb-type questions). So, hey, let's not concentrate on the extras, the visuals, the record company selling points - what's interesting is what it actually sounds like.
Full on. This is a rapid (45 tracks on one CD!), hectic, driving mix that surpasses the traditionalist dad-Techno agenda outlined above. Taking on a healthy injection of Batucada and Afro-beat, Mills delivers a dancefloor experience aimed directly at the clubs. This isn't really for your home stereo. Definitely not for your laptop speakers. Your Walkman? Maybe - but in that case only to create a backdrop for commuting and other stress-inducing activities in the metropolis.
Rhythms are, as expected, kept 4-to-the-floor and the tempo remains virtually the same throughout. It's a live mix, no doubt; some minor mistakes are included (at least on the pre-mastered version that I got for reviewing), which is always a charming feature of a mix CD, adding a little of that human touch. All in all, it's a solid, yet fairly predictable journey.
Terminal point then. It's been eight years. has much happened? No. mainstay Techno can't go much further. Already from the beginning, it used to be both passionately eclectic (check for example Carl Craig's brilliant "Abstract Funk Theory" on Obsessive) yet at the same time frightenly formulaic (check for example... ehrm, Jeff Mills work on Axis). This paradox lies deep at the heart of Techno - the historical reasons are many, and there's no room for going further into them here (read one of the many books about it instead!). What "Exhibitionist" essentially proves is that the situation remains the same. Afrofuturism, mad experimentation, polyrhythmic eclecticism, frenzy - yes, but within very clearly defined bounds.