Jeff Mills Lifelike

Jeff Mills is to techno what Coltrane is to jazz and Stockhausen is to classical. He has an acute sensitivity to the spatiality of his sound and treats his rhythms like a mathematician performing calculus. But for all of his seriousness, there lies a deep sense of passion as well as a will to transcend throughout all of his work. Lifelike is a continuation of his obsession with the abilities of the mind (the liner notes feature excerpts of a dialogue with his psychologist) as explored through his penchant brand of sharply syncopated beats. Rhythms break down and the grooves slide in and out of time with hi-hats. Snippets of strings go frenetic and spin on tilt. Melancholic synth-hymns like "Yantra" and "Minnia (The Queen's Theme)" take a break from the more beat-driving tracks, while "Condor to Mallorca" keeps building up to a beat that begins but never follows through until much later, when the listener has forgotten all about it. The feeling of suspension amid chaos is similarly evoked on "Systematic," when after minutes of electro-pounding, a single, sharp-toned chord breaks out and fades as quickly as it appears. Mills' hard-headed grooves are transformed by such disruptions, as their repetitions suddenly resound with a spontaneity that most would think uncommon, let alone almost impossible for any form of electronic music. (Music Man)