Culture, DEMF 09, Music

Jeff Mills: In Detroit, he’s still The Wizard

DEMF wasn’t as happening of a weekend for me as it was for my ISM compatriots. However, I did catch most of Derrick May’s closing set at the main stage, and, most importantly, I was there to witness an excellent Wizard-style performance by Jeff Mills at the Mixworks party–replete with self-made edits, multi-layered blends, and really funky 909 programming.

The Wizard played many tracks that sounded like his own unreleased material, similar in flavor to the compositions on One Man Spaceship or Contact Special albums.  From the eerie, space static ambient intro to the energetic 909 programming, each track flowed nicely into the next.   Mills managed to present a selection of hard as nails techno (I heard a track that featured somewhere in the middle of the Live at the Liquid Room mix), to cerebral, original minimal techno of Rob Hood’s Minus, to the fast, abstract dub of Basic Channel’s Octagon, and Enforcement.

Instead of playing the expected peak time anthem of his own The Bells, Mills chose instead to play a track off of his early Tresor release, Late Night.  Surprisingly, most of these originally fast tracks sounded good played at a seemingly much slower speed than what would be expected from a serious techno set.

Mills’s set wasn’t pure nostalgia and classics, however.  A loop of a Sleeparchive track towards the end sounded like a jazzy electronic trumpet solo, and a layer of a Norman Nodge track (Jeff popped the tone arm after an annoying skip in the middle of this only to have the track land right back on beat) sounded great blended with a recent-sounding production circa The Good Robot.

10 Comments

  1. Kenny says:

    This set was absolutely amazing. There was very little I recognised from it, and I suspect a lot of it is unreleased. He really turned my head inside out throughout the set. Not the most danceable sets of techno I’ve heard but certainly one of the most intense and enjoyable.

  2. gmos says:

    hoping this set will make its way onto the internets soon

  3. detroitio says:

    one can only hope…

  4. hyperbole? says:

    My friend stated that Mills performance was “ok” and simply a rehashing of his last performance that he did at Smartbar in Chicago.

    Don’t believe the hype?

  5. hyperbole? says:

    Ignore the comment above, it makes me look very ESL…

    It should read:

    My friend stated that Mills’ performance was “ok” and simply a rehashing of his Dec ’08 performance at Smartbar in Chicago.

    Don’t believe the hype maybe?

  6. detroitio says:

    Since significantly more than half of the tracks Mills played were likely his own unreleased material, I congratulate hyperbole’s friend’s great memory for track ids.

    Can’t help him with the jadedness though, he’ll have to work on that himself.

  7. gmos says:

    “i think there’s a distinct difference between someone looking back over a completed portion of music history and making sense of it all and trying to force a narrative on music’s evolution as it is happening.”

    100% agree with this. we need to remember that in the past when House or Techno was blowing up these were new genres/styles that had been in gestation for a few years, that were a direct result of local social and cultural phenomena. so by the time articles started being written about them as distinct new genres/styles there was a narrative there already. now, as you say, it’s seems there’s a forced search for these narratives

    I would guess that maybe even some of the writers you’re talking about finally got bored of the berlin-centric-mnml-narrative and are simply looking for new inspiration.

  8. gmos says:

    oops, ignore that, it’s a reply to another thread

  9. DjRoCutz74 says:

    The Wizard had the best mixes on the radio in the 80’s and 90’s.

  10. cz says:

    yeah, i really don’t know what to say about this. i’ve heard scores if not hundreds of live hard techno sets since i started going to parties in the early nineties, and this was hands down the greatest set of similar style. maybe he plays the same set in different towns, but so what? he KILLED it in detroit. and on top of his records and cds i’ve never heard a 909 sound like that. super creative.

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