Jeff Mills Exhibitionist

Jeff Mills Exhibitionist
For all his legendary status, the DJ formerly known as the Wizard is no mix-disc whore — Exhibitionist is his first in eight years (and only second overall). But Jeff Mills makes them count by doing more than simply lining up obscure tracks and calling it a cash-in. Dating back to his radio days, Mills has been the master of the quick-mix and he puts that ability to good use here, running through 45 tracks in 70 minutes. The focus of this live, three-turntable studio set is naturally on his own funk-laden productions (comprising about half the tracks) as well as those from his labels Axis, Tomorrow and Purpose Maker — though there are outsiders mixed in, such as Oliver Ho, Samuel L. Sessions and Ben Sims. Mills sticks everything together with stripped-down Detroit techno glue, but takes numerous forays into tribal beats, Latino rhythms, dark breathers and ecstatic atmospherics that belie his reputation for minimalism. The set moves so fast it’s hard to keep track of what track you’re listening to, but given the same-same quality of the overall genre — purpose-built for the dance floor, not your headphones — Mills’ constant change-ups add just enough unpredictability while showing off his mixing and selection skills. But for all the impressiveness of the CD, Mills’ real baby is the accompanying DVD, which includes four filmed (and multi-angled) mixes as well as interviews and extras — all designed to visually explain to the laymen what techno is all about. But watch all you want train-spotters, it still won’t teach you to mix like Mills.

The obvious question is why the long wait since your last mix-disc? I was never really one to make a mix album every year. A mix album for a DJ is like an artist album for a musician, it can very much mark turning points in one’s career. So by allowing enough time between the first and second one, I was hoping the point would be very different from the first and that should I ever make another one it would be many, many years from now.

Why do you think you’ve maintained your popularity for so long? I established early to set a certain path and follow on that path — not ignoring all the trends, acknowledging those, but when it came down to making music, I want to stay on a certain path. At times it’s been difficult to do because some things don’t sell as much. The reward is not as great. But for those who have followed the work I’ve done, they can understand why I did not go to drum & bass or house music. The road is still long and I have no intention of ever changing.

What do you do next? I try to expand even further in terms of the concepts. In terms of sound, I don’t really know. I’m constantly experimenting with new things, but I’ll try to go even further, even deeper into the universe. (Axis)