Legendary techno artist Jeff Mills has always been at the forefront of music and technology. He constantly pushes the boundaries with daring new projects, most recently as The Paradox alongside Jean-Phi Dary. Mills and Dary dive into the inner makings of their debut album as a group, Counter Active, with a new Director's Cut feature.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Jeff Mills & Jean-Phi Dary
JM: This was one of the first tracks we recorded. Jean-Phi and I knew that we wanted to make something that travels an uncertain landscape. I recall using the various drum breaks as signals to chart different directions. I think the most unique about this track is the number and combination of sounds that are heard throughout. Jean-Phi wanted the back-end of the track to sound more electrified – which turned out great. The original version actually had a three-minute acoustic piano solo before the track starts, but it was eventually removed and only at the end of the track. The last note chord of that piano is probably the most important part of the whole track. It is what the whole track amounts to.
JPD: When you leave your starship onto an unknown planet and everything you see, smell, and touch gives you feedback of what you are experiencing inside. Emotions. Sometimes you understand, sometimes you don't. But at the end of the day, you can see your face in a mirror and be proud of the journey.
JM: This track accumulated over time. The initial sounds were drums, repetitive bass, and synth. Jean-Phi added a second bassline, strings, and few sounds to give it a fuller spectrum.
The overall feeling of the track was meant to translate a certain amount of “freedom to wander” so the structure of the track is improvisational. For the drums and percussion, I was attempting to straddle the lines between a drum machine and a real drummer. For the conga solo, this was meant to be as if someone was talking or saying something relevant to what the music is about.
JPD: Always go forward. Ancient African tribe's warriors of the groove running to share their knowledge and mankind.
3. Super Solid
JM: This my favorite on the album. This is the track I listened to the most after the sessions before we went into the final mix-down sessions. Jean-Phi added a second bassline which gave it more of a funk appeal. Recorded and captured in one take, we really improvised our way through it. The more we worked on this track, I think we both understand more about why The Paradox is so special. It’s the ability to fuse different styles together almost effortlessly.
JPD: Freaky, Afrobeat, NewJazz, Deep Soul Disco. Hopeful and joyful. To share absolutely with all the generations.
JM: Jean-Phi was to arrive in the studio slightly later on this day, so I decided to create something before he arrived. The first tracks were basically a drum machine and synth solo. When Jean-Phi arrived, he began to lay down the solos and string pads. A seemingly simple track, but actually, it was one of the most difficult to mix down. I think the way Jean-Phi’s Rhodes solos really give the track its life.
JPD: A space ballad which, like a satellite flying over the world exploring the universe, brings back the story of this trip to the world. No lessons, just experimenting…
JPD: When during the first lockdown you discover that Jeff has left a present for you in the Pro Tools session, you just trip on the groove and you travel in your memories. From Paris to Tokyo, Detroit, Tel Aviv, Lagos, NYC, Berlin, Sao Paulo and so many more.
JM: Like "Twilight," the drums and synth were recorded as a solo, but we did not choose to finish this track. Then, Jean-Phi decided to work on the track in his private studio to add all the other sounds to make it a real composition. It’s called “residence” (Jean-Phi’s place) for that reason.
We liked it so much that we made a longer alternative mix.
Grab your copy below.
Bandcamp | Axis
Jean-Phi Dary: Facebook | Youtube | Spotify
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