Vote now for Best of Detroit 2021

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

No place like home

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Unlike Jeff Mills’ recent Purpose Maker-era, when creating one-dimensional dance building blocks became his central mission (utilized gruelingly by Richie Hawtin on Decks, EFX & 909), Lifelike showcases Mills’ ability to create compelling tracks which favor multilayered rhythms and melodies without giving up the dance floor. Tracks such as “Zenith” and “Solara,” the first with a series of quivering electronic vibrations and a teasing beat, and the second with a full-on futuro-romp of a bass line, are two such examples of a Mills aesthetic that has been nearly 20 years in the making.

Each track on the hour-plus album is built, in glorious Detroit fashion, with four or five different rhythmic layers, each filled with both subtlety and drive. From bass lines that push firmly and then quickly drop out (“Detached”), to keyboard and string riffs that glint off into the ether (the angelic “With/Dove”), Mills is in control of his muse throughout the record.

Expert and listenable. But he is not Sun Ra.

Mills still seems to think this sound, pioneered by the old Detroit guard more than a decade and a half ago, is still the cutting edge. To supposedly understand its nature, he has himself psychologically examined in the liner notes, “not by a music journalist, but by a professional. A doctor of human psyche.” The resulting 13 pages of outright Tofflerism/techno-babble, in which Mills nips at his own tail in defining what techno is or is not, is almost as self-absorbed as Mills displaying pictures of his hands at art exhibits. After a strong LP by Mills, this “adventure” into Mills’ psyche adds nothing to his music except to highlight its increasingly witless conceptual baggage.

Mills’ skills are unquestionable. His reified theoretical tenor, though, increasingly approaches irrelevance.

Carleton S. Gholz writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 20, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation