Years from now, fields of scholars will be employed to study the logical and intuitional connections between records in the Jeff Mills discography. Take a record like Time Mechanic. It comes out, seemingly a standalone record, only to find its continuum three years later in a second installment. The connections from one record to the next may only become apparent years, maybe even decades later through the gradual introduction of new materials. Lain out on a floor and viewed from the sky, the records and the lines connecting them would resemble a black rainbow-tinted circuit board, guided by a scientific logic that only geniuses or super-intelligent machine agents could follow.
So Time Mechanic (2005) begat Time Mechanics 02 Eternity (2008) which shows itself on Director’s Cut Chapter 2, the second installment in Jeff Mills’ curated collection of remasters. And you can “begat” more iterations and relationships than exist in 1 Chronicles 1. But if there is a “Genesis” here – I mean aside from Jeff Mills’ actual genesis – it’d be Cycle 30. This unassuming title marked the departure point for Jeff Mills’ career, when his music became animated by an untamed artistic fire, when tracks previously made for DJ Use Only (like, for instance, 1992’s “Changes of Life”) became embedded in a sweeping vision, more orchestral than club.
But there’s a workmanship that puts to rest claims of artistic fragility. That’s why Jeff Mills will be remembered and almost all of the rest of us won’t. Cycle 30, for instance, featured Jeff Mills’ use of locked grooves – a manufacturing trick to save phonograph needles from running into the sticker. Mills repurposed the locked groove in revolutionary fashion as part of the compositions themselves. Records, by design, contained one locked groove at the end of each side. Side A of Cycle 30 alone has eight locked grooves. The fourth track from Cycle 30 is presented here under the title “Cycle 30 – Loop 4 Reduced.”
The Director’s Cut project is one that is clearly close to Jeff Mills heart. And it works against the emerging wisdom that an artist’s catalog is just something reduced to a pool for mining digital pennies (and fractions of pennies) on streaming services. But part of the reason we take this music seriously is not just because the music itself demands it but because Jeff Mills does.
Jeff Mills: The Director’s Cut Chapter 2 / Axis
A1. Jeff Mills: As Soon As (3’42”) Taken from Time Mechanic 02 Eternity (AX042) 2008
A2. Jeff Mills: G-Star (3’23”) Taken from Alpha Centauri (AX049) 2008
A3. Jeff Mills: Jeff Mills commentary – “If (We)” (1’11”)
B1. Jeff Mills: If (We) (3’44”) Taken from If/Tango (PM009) 1999
B2. Jeff Mills: Cycle 30 – Loop 4 reduced (5’04”) Taken from Cycle 30 (AX008) 1994