- The notion of techno producers evoking images of aliens and spaceships in 2013 feels almost quaint. At this point the ideas and themes we once associated with the future are hopelessly outdated. To some, it's artistically barren terrain—Regis recently suggested that producers shoehorn spaceships and science into techno simply because the genre has no built-in narrative. But it's a concept that has inspired Jeff Mills for decades, and one he continues to explore with more vigour than anyone else—see this year's collaboration with Japanese astronaut Mamoru Mohri as proof.
The Jungle Planet is the latest instalment in the Sleeper Wakes series, which explores the place where techno, sci-fi and soundtracks meet. If you've listened to records like The Messenger, Fantastic Voyage or the original Sleeper Wakes, you'll know what you're in for: The Jungle Planet is basically an O.S.T. for a movie that exists only in Mills' mind.
The album has been released on a black USB cube. I'm not going to dwell on the pros and cons of the cube—it's a cube, there's not much more to say—and besides, the vinyl cover art by French artist Julien Pacaud is far more interesting. It plunges you headlong into the Jungle Planet, a peculiar place where jellyfish float in the sky, giant insects wander through ferns and strange shapes loom on the horizon.
The Jungle Planet's plot sees all of mankind wiped out but for one survivor, The Messenger, who arrives on a "super planet," 300 times larger than Jupiter with three suns. It's fanciful, a little bit silly, and fun. The opening track, "Descending Micro Terra," introduces us to a planet teeming with life; sparking arpeggios give way to the chirrups and whistles of insects and birds. "The World Of Worlds" is laced with tension, thanks to some tightly coiled keys, while "Black Box Colony," with its skittering breakbeat pattern, is one of the more overt nods to techno. On "Rainbow Clusters," keys splash colour around in a manner wonderfully evocative of the track's title, while "Approaching Magnesium Towers" and "Human Dream Collectors" evoke the more linear explorations of Mills' Something In The Sky series.
Though the sound palette begins to wear thin at points—especially if you've heard previous Mills albums in this vein—it's a vivid world to explore, one that's been drawn with visual imagery, evocative track titles, a detailed backstory and a rich collection of tracks. The future ain't what it used to be, but on The Jungle Planet Mills has painted yet another rich, exotic portrait of life beyond the stars.
01. Descending Micro Terra
02. The World Of Worlds
03. Black Box Colony
04. Translucent Plants
05. Rainbow Clusters
06. Four Hour Days
07. When Night Fell
08. Approaching Magnesium Towers
09. Human Dream Collectors
11. Truth To The Chosen On
12. Dream Mechanics
13. The Truth Revealed