I hear that Jeff Mills is a DJ. “Blue Potential” shows that this may just nt be the only tag he is worth of. This album features the Montpellier Philharmonic Orchestra (what, was the New York Philharmonic out for the day), and showcases Mills’ skills as an arranger. This means that songs like the opening have a decidedly film score-like sound for individuals, something that never quite leaves during the entirety of this album.
Where the first few tracks on “Blue Potential” keep pretty close to a classical base, Jeff decides to move into a much more contemporary sound with the second movement to “Imagine”. This is done by coupling the work of the Philharmonic with a drum machine and the sampling done by Mills. The end result is something that is classic but with a decidedly more modern feel. “March” breaks down the fourth wall for listeners as a number of individuals are shown to be part of the live audience. It is true that they are quietly silenced, but their presence shows that Mills and the Philharmonic were not working only in the studio to create this album. The tracks are full sounding, with more than the strings making an entrance on this album.
For example, “March” has a heavy bass presence where there was little to no presence before. The work done by Mills is much of the same as was done in previous tracks, but the Philharmonic steps up during this track. What I really see Mills as doing is creating a mood with this album. This shows that he is not attempting to steal the stage from the classically-trained players, but actually caresses and expands upon their general sound. There is little in the way of vocals for individuals to clue in on during “Blue Potential”, but where this is made up for is by the very tight arrangements that individual can hear on this disc. The fusion of organic and inorganic is done with such care that listeners will forget that this is instrumental; a story is told that is clear as day. I understand that Mills is a legend up in Detroit, but this album is what is needed to increase eir stock elsewhere in the world. Most importantly, Jeff Mills is a name that will be recognized alongside acts like Glass; this is a cross-over hit if I’ve ever heard one.
Top Tracks: Imagine, March
Jeff Mills – Blue Potential / 2006 Axis / 15 Tracks / http://www.axisrecords.com / Reviewed 05 June 2006