Light from the Outside World – Detroit techno goes classic with Jeff Mills


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Detroit’s legendary techno producer and DJ presents the Swedish premiere of his latest project, blurring the line between a club and a concert hall night.

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Jeff Mills has been a leading figure in the techno scene ever since his pioneering DJ mixes – as The Wizard – lit up the Detroit airwaves back in the mid-1980s. Later, working with Mike Banks, he co-founded Underground Resistance, a shadowy, militant collective who became one of the most crucial forces in the ‘second wave’ of Detroit techno.

Over the years Mills has spent more and more time in Europe, spending a period as resident at Berlin’s Tresor club, and crafting a more sleek, minimal take on dance music. His DJ sets remain hugely popular, but he has also developed a series of orchestral collaborations which expand his vision to take in ambitious new textures.

The first of these, Blue Potential, seamlessly combined electronics with orchestral music. For this show, Mills presents a refinement of that project – Light From The Outside World – in which classics like The Bells can be heard in uniquely towering arrangements.

THE PERFORMANCE IN MALMÖ

The cheer joy of seeing a living legend within the techno scene entering the stage alongside the UK conductor Christophe Mangou is of course impressive in itself. Add to this the notion of bringing monotone and repetitive beats into a classical music surrounding/context is even more interesting. The overall impression you get is something like this; imagine yourself walking the evening streets of Berlin and from a basement club you hear massive techno beats, but as you try to isolate the techno beats you hear the surrounding noise from the street traffic (in essence classical music being played all around you) and the whole things starts to blend together and create a mesh of sounds and beats that pulls you along. Personally we wouldn´t want to miss this event for the world, but if you are more of a hard core techno guy you may be slightly dissapointed, since it is more Jeff bringing techno into the realms of classical music then the other way around.

In general we get the impression that Jeff Mills has really done his homework in bringing in the classical elements into his compositions and we would say that one major inspirational source for the compositions would be Igor Stravinsky, with a splash of Beethoven. Interestingly enough the compositions are much lighter than anticipated, at some parts one could almost hear sounds stemming from the Nutcracker, being dropped on top of the massive beats and hi-hats, that provides the foundation of the performance. Apart from incorporating his most famous piece The Bells we believe we could also spot Cocaine being squashed in inbetween the violins, although a bit dissapointing that there apparently was not more material to play than was given as Jeff and MSO had to do a retake on The Bells for the extra number at the end.

What Jeff was actually doing on stage was a bit harder to spot, but it is clear that he was controlling the beats from a lent in drum machine and that most of his time he was concentrating his energy on something that resemebled a large mixer board. With this quite limited set up he was able to control and generate the underlying rhythm foundation that emerged in the soundscape he and the orchestra was producing, paired with some spicy electronic sounds that popped up here and there throughout the performance, sometime almost like R2D2 had found its way into the orchestra.

Coming back to the conductor – while pursuing his career as a classical conductor, Christophe Mangou, an eclectic musician, is keen to develop projects based on original collaborations between classical musicians, jazz musicians and other artists with different backgrounds… Since September 2012, he has collaborated with Jeff Mills on his symphonic projects.

Conclusion: From our perspective a must see 🙂

 

Jeff Mills (born 18 June 1963, Detroit, Michigan) is an American techno DJ and producer Mills is a founder of Underground Resistance, a techno collective formed with ‘Mad’ Mike Banks in the late 1980s. While Mills left the group to explore his own ventures, the collective continues to be a mainstay of Detroit’s music scene. He went by The Wizard, a DJ alias he used since the early 1980s, retiring the name in 2013.

Mills is the founder and owner of Axis Records, a record label he founded in 1992. The label is based in Chicago, Illinois and is responsible for the release of much of his solo work.

Mills has received recognition for his work both as a DJ and producer. Eminem mentioned Mills in the lyrics to a song and he was knighted Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. Mills was also featured in Man From Tomorrow, a documentary about techno music that he produced along with French filmmaker Jacqueline Caux. He continued working in film, releasing Life to Death and Back, a film he shot in the Egyptian wing of the Louvre Museum where he also had a four-month residency

Short video excerpt from the performance in Malmö, Sweden on February 17th 2016: