Mediocre For a Pioneer
In regards to his critically acclaimed composition, Popcorn Superhet Receiver that landed him a spot as BBCâ€šÃ„Ã´s Composer in Residence, Jonny Greenwood described his attempt to â€šÃ„Ãºturn a string orchestra into a drum machine.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Although Jeff Mills does not exactly replicate Greenwoodâ€šÃ„Ã´s intentions on his latest release Blue Potential, he certainly comes close.Performing live with the Montpelier Philharmonic Orchestra, Mills creates an effect that on the surface sounds remarkably close to what Greenwood had in mind. Jeff Mills is no stranger to pushing the envelope in the world of electronic music, having composed his own scores to acclaimed films such as Fritz Langâ€šÃ„Ã´s Metropolis and Buster Keatonâ€šÃ„Ã´s Three Ages. Known for his minimal, almost industrial sound, Mills layers his sparse, snare heavy beats over the lush and atmospheric orchestral compositions of the Montpellier Philharmonic. Some of the tracks such as â€šÃ„ÃºSonic Destroyerâ€šÃ„Ã¹ are re-imaginings of cuts from his days with Detroit-based DJ crew Underground Resistance, a new twist on an old classic if you will.
Despite the grandeur of working with a full orchestra, Blue Potential is by no means Jeff Millâ€šÃ„Ã´s tour de force. His beats are often so sparse that the orchestral pieces overwhelm the electronic aspect of the tracks, particularly on â€šÃ„ÃºThe Gates of Metropolisâ€šÃ„Ã¹. In other instances, his beats simply assume the role of the percussion section of the orchestra and are lost amid the stringed and brass instruments.
Although one cannot help but admire Millsâ€šÃ„Ã´ audacity in stepping far outside of his comfort zone as a musician by undertaking a task of such magnitude, Blue Potential simply does not live up to Millsâ€šÃ„Ã´ reputation as a pioneer in electronic music.