From the long overdue debut albums of LeRon Carson and Steve Summers, to the revelation of An Anomaly, from the roughness of Filmmaker and Ratsnake to the meditative music of Les Filles de Illighadad, from the established Greek artist June to the very limited synthwave album of the unknown Greek artist Tatat, here are our favorite albums from 2021, compiled in chronological order.Continue reading “2021 Best Albums”
The Override Switch combines the talent of two Detroit natives: Jeff Mills and Rafael Leafar. The latter is a multi-instrumentalist with a strong affiliation to jazz music. Through Mike Banks, he was introduced to Jeff Mills, where the idea for “The Override Switch” began to manifest. “The Override Switch” gives control back to the musicians. Unrestrained and unshackled by the semiotics placed by conventional dance music, it looks to a frontier beyond what is conditioned by genre. By infusing the mercurial elements of jazz, it gives electronic instruments the avenue that it always had the potential to travel down; as an unrestrictive genre, exploring the boundless possibilities in which it is capable. It looks to innovation and transcends what has come before; it is a switch in a practical sense, overlooking its past before switching to the future. The album is a homage to artists like John Coltrane, J Dilla, Kraftwerk and those who inspire experimentation with what can be evoked through music.
Axis Records presents the latest release from the heterogeneous Raffaele Attanasio. The multifaceted Italian has delivered an eclectic sound over the years, from devious techno to melodious rhythmic beats. Attanasio delivers a jazz-tinged, angular, progressive and championing album by coalescing influential factors: a musician father, a multifarious palate in music, and prowess as a multi-instrumentalist. “Nuovo Futuro” is creating a new future by travelling to the past. Digging into the Zeitgeist of Naples post-second world war, Attanasio extrapolates the sound to present day, combining modern flair with an enriched sound. The influence of American blues and jazz is felt in his hometown, celebrating the lore of Neapolitan musicians through the track ‘Parlesia’. The history comes to life through these compositions, influenced by 70s spaghetti films and rich Italian exuberance. Ardour, lust and avidity ensnare the listener in ‘Indagini Sospette’. This album is a journey through the streets where he grew up, but also, encapsulates a wandering mind, meandering into the harmonious Mediterranean under the watchful eye of Mount Vesuvius. ‘Equilibrio Dinamico’ is a snapshot of the working mind of Attanasio, balancing the impromptu of jazz with a gentle caress of his honed craft. Melodies are soft, smooth, progressive and fulminating the constraints of contemporary music. It emanates a renaissance for a sound that Axis is espousing in their releases.
”Think Again is about reviewing the plan. It’s about taking inventory, reorganizing, restocking, doing away with and adding what’s needed. It’s a project about transition – in body and soul” – Millsart
When a spark ignites between two musicians, the state of flow can be achieved. Usually, a fleeting sensation, but when captured, it is an unstoppable force. The coming together of Jeff Mills and Jean-Philippe Dary came from a collaborative project with the late great Tony Allen and created chemistry instantly. Both being cognizant of the skilled innate improvisation that was happening in small jam sessions, they conceived the concept for their collaborative project: The Paradox. They believed that this uncompromising freedom and the manifestation of new ideas allowed them to reach a higher level of spiritual consciousness within their work. Recorded in real-time; these compositions reflect captured spontaneous actions which concede honesty and truth.
We have four albums more on the electro side coming from DMX Krew, Men With Secrets (Donato Dozzy and Retina.it), Nullptr and The Exaltics & Heinrich Mueller, while on the industrial/EBM side we have albums by A Civil Terror, La luna sotto il ponte and LBEEZE and impressive works from Black Meteoric Star, Ian Martin and Trenton Chase.
On the synthier side of music we have four albums coming from Das Ding, Linea Aspera, Newclear Waves and Jake Schrock, while for the Detroit lovers we have two Detroit influenced album by The Beneficiaries (Jeff Mills, Eddie Fowlkes and Jessica Care Moore) and The Nightstalker (Dan Piu and Martin Akeret).
Closing the list are the debut album of disco-don Franz Scala on Slow Motion, Obergman‘s acid album on Furthur Electronix, Anthony Collins with his album on Lobster Theremin under the Grant alias and Shifted with his first album on Avian.
The list is compiled in chronological order.
In a distant future a spaceship crew passing the gate to an unknown civilization. The first contact takes place via telepathy, but fails due to a mental breakdown of the spaceship crew. The telepathic conversation left irreparable damage to the swarm intelligence of the unknown civilization as well and it is classified as a hostile attack. Thereupon they flee and fight their way through the unknown surroundings of the alien planet. With their remote control they are able to get their spaceship back and leave the planet. A technical defect on the spaceship causes them to drift away into infinity, but after a few weeks they reach a time journey sector and manage to activate a time portal back home. After 7000 years they return home and they have to find out that their home planet no longer exists. The only thing they can find is a lost capsule… the new album of Johannes Volk on Axis Records.
Byron The Aquarius is no stranger to true music fans. Early 2020 he gathered his friend musicians in Atlanta for a few day session at Patchwerk Studios under Jeff Mills’ supervision. The result is a fantastic mix between Soulful House and Jazz Music with a touch of Blues.
“The overall goal was to create something that bared the traits and signs that would catch the attention of a music lover. Someone that has danced themselves into a relationship with music that is unconditional and undeniable”. – Jeff Mills
In 2018, the idea was introduced by Jeff Mills to address the lack of artistic collaborations within and from the city of Detroit/USA. The city had always been an engine of new innovative ideas related to music, art, dance, poetry and all other arts. It was thought of as a way to demonstrate the commonality people possess from various art forms and that by mixing ideas visions and perspectives together are might produce unexpected and often provocative results. The project started when Mills reached out to one of Detroit Techno’s founder and legendary DJ/Producer Eddie Fowlkes. Though the two are known and connected to Detroit Techno and knew each other for decades, they never worked together so the first few meetings and conversations were marked with finding all the common links that have built both of their careers. During this time, Mills wanted to find a third person for the project, one that was from Detroit, but not a musician. His idea and theory was that by engaging two other creative thinkers would most likely produce something unique as emotions would become linked together to find that common, but higher level. While browsing the web, Mills discovered a post that featured the Detroit-born poet Jessica Care Moore. Struck by her words and the energy she mastered to say them, Mills knew immediately that she would be the perfect artist to approach for this creative venture. As with most artists that grew up in Detroit, they immediately opened up the links in their past, present and future outlook. He presented the case and explained to her how he thought it might work. She liked the idea and agree to join. “The Crystal City Is Alive” (A phrase extracted from Moore’s words), puts the Detroit, America and the World on notice. The alarm has sounded and it is now time to mobilize all creative units to the frontline.
Jeff Mills continues the Every Dog Has Its Day series under his Millsart moniker with his second edition of 2020. Vol. 6 is a double LP set with nine tracks. Every track has a story behind. This collection of Electronic Music by Jeff Mills is uniquely crafted to ease restlessness, soothe impatience and at the same time build high life expectations while opening the passages to a better understanding of what you are searching for.
This New Year, Jeff Mills is inviting us to look inward in the form of his Every Dog Has Its Day series. The last time we had an installment came 17 years ago, just enough time for a periodical cicada to emerge from theground, finished with its former life as a nymph. The sixth edition of this series is soon to follow in spring dressed in brown, continuing to deliver a spiritual and emotional raft for you to see that Every Dog Has Its Day. Mills himself has said, “You never figure out life, you just get used to it.” Reflected in this record is that sentiment, that life doesn’t present to you the answers because there are none. What is right and just for you, may not be for me, so how can I share with you any secrets. Electronic music can act as a guide, a catalyst of your headspace; it is not the map.
The sixth segment in Jeff Mills´ retrospective series „The Directors Cut” is dedicated to his anthem The Bells. First released as part of the Kat Moda PM002 EP on the Purpose Maker label in 1997, the original track is remastered and available now again. Available on vinyl for the very first time is the orchestra version of The Bells, taken from The Blue Potential (Originally released on CD and DVD). The premiere of Jeff Mills performing his works with an orchestra was celebrated in 2005 in France. For his open-air concert with the Montpellier Philharmonic Orchestra, at the historic Pont Du Gard in Montpellier, Jeff Mills´works were transcribed in notes for the individual instruments of the orchestra for the first time. This version of The Bells captures an unforgettable live moment where electronic music met classical in an unprecedented way. History revisited, but Mills leads back to present & future as well; the previously unreleased The Homosapiens Sapiens is a Sci-Fi affair, created especially for this chapter of „Directors Cut.”
For those who dig Jeff Mills but don’t have the time or money to hoard records from his extensive back catalogue, the ongoing “Director’s Cut” series showcasing hard-to-find gems from his discography is a godsend. Volume five begins with a trip back to 2015 and “Solar Cycles” – an alien-sounding, otherworldly mid-tempo techno loop jam – from the limited edition, USB-only “Proxima Centauri” album. Side B begins with the bleeping tribal techno hustle of “L8” from 1998’s “Skin Deep EP”, before Mills offers us a chance to drift through space via 2006 track “Above Waiting Worlds”, which is one of his most intergalactic and cinematic dancefloor cuts to date (and that’s saying something).
His knowledge of electronic music is unrivaled, yet it’s his understanding of how we’ve barely scratched the surface of techno that separates him. The genre, in essence, has no boundaries, so why should we apply them, why can’t we foresee a future in which electronic music is tapping into technology and human psyche that we never thought possible? Why can’t it be a vessel that transports a viewer to a character in a film, or a link through time? A look back can often pave the way to the future, one in which we can see and hear beyond the final frontier.
Interview and text by Lee Shields
The fourth chapter from Axis Records’ The Director’s Cut re-issue project gathers together various versions of killer cuts previously produced and released by the Motor City legend over the past two decades. Highlights include deep space techno workout “Deadly Rays (Of A Hot White Sun)”, the densely layered African percussion, low slung bass and echoing organ stabs of “Gateway Of Zen (Percussion Mix)”, the bleep-heavy electro/techno fusion of sweaty workout “999” and the alien-sounding, minor-key hypnotism of “The Industry Of Dreams”. Each track is accompanied by a separate “audio commentary” from the man himself, which is ideal for those who love to hear artists talking about their work.
”Commemorating 50th Anniversary of the Moon landing (July 20 2019) Axis Records is pleased to announce the release of the album by Jeff Mills on his interpretations of Earth’s Moon. ”There are influences of the Moon we can detect, measure and document as scientific facts. If these are perceived as rational explanations, then it should raise questions about the possibility of other unseen mental and metaphysical connections humans have, not just with the Moon but with all other celestial bodies in and outside this Solar System. On the flipside, as we recognize that our Sun gives us light and a lifespan, what does an even greater force in the Cosmos, perhaps the darkness [or absence of anything] affects us. If we look at the Moon as a component in a vast configuration of integral connected parts, then an intuitive sense might lead us to a wider understanding about how deeply our relationship lies. This album and the imagination that helped to produce it should be considered as a proposition with open-endedness and no foreseeable conclusion. It is a chemistry of facts and feelings based on then, now and forever”. Jeff Mills”
Four track EP containing 2 remastered cuts and two unreleased tracks by Jeff Mills on his own Axis label. Note by Jeff Mills: ”Looking back in hindsight to the activity and accomplishments of Axis is with much pride – to witness the relationship between the music and listener evolving to this point. The Director’s Cut reissue project is about manicuring detail. It’s about a rare opportunity to enhance what we’ve done so that the relationship strengthens for the long term”
The second chapter from Axis Records’ The Director’s Cut re-issue project. Jeff Mills goes back into the Axis archive to release special unreleased versions as well as iconic tracks that made the label what it is today.
”Looking back in hindsight to the activity and accomplishments of Axis is with much pride – to witness the relationship between the music and listener evolving to this point. The Director’s Cut reissue project is about manicuring detail. It’s about a rare opportunity to enhance what we’ve done so that the relationship strengthens for the long term” – Jeff Mills