THROWBACK THURSDAY: Jeff Mills – The Dancer [1996]

Having developed his Axis label (as well as providing a boost to the emerging Tresor sound in Germany) in the early 90s, and conscious of the emerging tribal techno sound, Jeff Mills unveiled the Purpose Maker EP in 1995, with its Reverting and Casa tracks signalling a new direction for the man they called ‘The Wizard’.

One year on from that, the vision was made flesh with the first release on a new Mills-owned Axis spinoff, Purpose Maker Records. The Java EP featured four shuffling, mesmerising tracks, arguably the standout of which was The Dancer – unlike anything heard in techno at the time, and still a go-to for DJs looking to take the crowd to the next level.

The track hypnotises the listener from the off, speeding off at full tilt until around the two-minute mark, when Mills allows some strings to join the party – only for them to come to a shuddering halt again at 3.09.

As Mills told FACT magazine in 2011, the concept behind the Purpose Maker tracks was that “they were designed to be as DJ tools, not conventional songs. After playing them out and realising how effective they were, I changed my strategy and decided to release one 12″ vinyl EP to see how DJs used it. The first indication was… OK. Not great, but OK. […]. It wasn’t until really until the fifth or sixth release that people began to notice the sound and label.”

Mills would follow up the Java EP with PM-002, aka the Kat Moda EP, which would feature among its tracks a little known number called The Bells. But that’s a story for another Thursday..!

[Kudos to 62MISSION77 for the YouTube upload]

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