- As one of the early Detroit techno artists, Jeff Mills is worthy of massive respect. But as an artist who has maintained integrity, consistency and curiosity for 30-odd years, he is rare. While many artists, techno or otherwise, are content to rest on their laurels, Mills still feels like an intrepid explorer.
"The Hunter," the second single from Mills' recent Free Fall Galaxy album, is set alongside two previously unreleased cuts on The Kill Zone EP. While Free Fall Galaxy was driven by a speculative outer space concept, The Kill Zone focuses on survival instinct. The rhythm of an electrocardiography machine bleeps over an atonal drone in "The Hunter," raising your hackles. "Asphyxiation," a sensory overload, thrusts you straight into the deliriousness of the club, and "The Kill Zone" is a nine-minute odyssey.
While Mills has long excelled at evoking specific moods and imagery, especially within his favorite themes (outer space, futurism, sci-fi), what's really impressive now is his sense of composition and arrangement. He could probably never equal the musicianship of keyboardist Mike Banks, his collaborator in X-102, but he has the ear of a creator intent on finely wrought world-building. Many layers of elliptical rhythms in various stereo positions, counterpoint melodies, atmospheric drones and other sonic detailing fill every track on The Kill Zone. Elements constantly interact to create distinct sections. The music is complex, subtle and rich, like the best avant-garde experiments, while remaining entirely listenable.
A1 The Hunter
B1 The Kill Zone