Key Detroit techno personality Jeff Mills lives up to his penchant for provoking contemplative inquiry with his latest offering. As its title suggests, his nine-track album Mind Power Mind Control derives inspiration from forces of thought manipulation in the modern age. It released on Mills’ own Axis Records May 20th.
“The focus of this project and presentation examines the art of mental persuasion and how the mind can control as well as fall vulnerable to subservient ways,” Mills said of the album, according to a press release. “It allows the means to look creatively and more in-depth to a subject that applies to every person and at every stage of life because how we perceive or sense something is part of our evolutionary survival pattern.”
Mills statement continues: “Because there is no exact mental compatibility between any of us, speculation and misconceptions are not exemplary, so an emphasis on ‘the presentation of facts, ideas and methods and what we knew as true by example’ are the major points that drives the overall purpose of this album project.”
The music itself encompasses a diverse range of rhythms, tempos, and textures without abandoning Mills’ experimental yet somehow familiar take on techno. Film score samples give way to tones reminiscent of Indonesian gamelan ensembles in “Scarlet,” whereas a syncopated beat creeps along to set a suspenseful ambience in “Hatsumi.” “Transmutation” comprises warbling, soft-edged synths juxtaposed with heavy bass stabs and no percussion to speak of. The digital release includes two bonus tracks: the vaguely orchestral “Radiance” and “Units.”
Few artists have contributed as much to the subtle mystique of techno as Jeff Mills. Originally a hip-hop DJ known as “The Wizard” for his sets on Detroit radio station WDRQ, he produced music as one half of the industrial duo Final Cut before making a name for himself globally as one of the cofounders of Underground Resistance. The group posed incisive social commentary on predatory music industry practices with the broader mission of paving a path forward for young, Black men.
In November of last year, Mills found himself on the receiving end of industry critique. Along with techno superstars like Amelie Lens, Carl Cox, and Sven Väth, he appeared on the lineup of a Saudi Arabian festival called MDL Beast. Human Rights Watch called the gathering a “reputation-launder scheme” and encouraged artists to speak against the Saudi government’s human rights abuses or not participate.
Mills defended his appearance in a subsequent statement. “…We never know who might be there in the audience, listening, and trying to connect with something greater than ourselves [sic],” he wrote. “This music needs to be accessible to anyone and everywhere!”
Jeff Mills also recently closed out the main stage of Movement Electronic Music Festival 2022 on the final day. Read Selector’s full review of the three-day gathering here, and purchase Mind Power Mind Control in digital or double 12-inch vinyl record format on the Axis Records website.