Algorithm Abandons Underground


JEFF MILLIGAN (aka ALGORITHM) with ADAM MARSHALL, BRENDAN COSTIGANE, ALI BLACK, RICHARD BROOKS and TYLER KERR at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West), Friday (February 22). $5 before 11 pm, $15 until 1 am, $18 after.

ALGORITHM Composure CD release party, at Element (553 Queen West), Thursday, February 28. $tba. 416-359-1919,

Rating: NNNNN

With a DJ career spanning 12 years, Jeff Milligan (aka Algorithm) was one of the first to push minimal dance music in Toronto.

He was quick to establish an identity somewhere between the academic extreme of German click house and the future funk of Detroit techno and Chicago house while performing at some of the most acclaimed venues in France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Holland and the Czech Republic.

Realizing that most of the artists on his Revolver label were based in Quebec, and seeing stronger support there for experimental music, he relocated to Montreal.

Some in the Toronto techno scene must have felt abandoned as they watched one of the founding figures leave for greener pastures.

“I think the underground has too much of a holier-than-thou ethic,” Milligan explains from his Montreal home.

“The underground mythology needs to be rethought. For years people have been handing out flyers to the same 10 people because it’s all about “those who know.’ Well, there’s never going to be anyone else who knows.

“Things move constantly. It’s only in recent years that this genre has been able to develop a level of business maturity to be able to survive in the larger market of electronic music.

“Minimal house is not the first thing that a company like Smirnoff is going to throw a ton of money at. That’s one of the big reasons I moved to Montreal, because there’s much higher support for the arts, which is important for this music to flourish properly.”

Milligan returns to Toronto Friday for an Una Mas show and to promote his new mix CD, an ambitious project that compiles elements from the entire Force Lab catalogue into one amorphous but surprisingly focused piece.

Not a mix CD in the traditional sense, Composure takes the basic idea of Richie Hawtin’s computer-assembled DE9 disc to an extreme.

“The Force Lab imprint is fairly limited in quantity, seven 12-inches in total and two or three unreleased tracks that I had digital versions of. It’s impossible to do a proper DJ treatment with that amount of material, because there won’t be enough in the right key — definitely not enough for an hour.

“What I did first was to lay down discrete mixes from turntables to my hard drive. I then sat there cutting individual loops out of the contextualized versions, with different EQ and fader settings. I just kept saving and resaving, loop after loop.”

Then Milligan started mixing the artists with themselves, something like mega-mixes of an artist’s whole record mixed with rest of the catalogue. He then extracted single instruments with Recycle to add embellishments, basically recomposing the entire catalogue.

“Once I had all the loops composed, I started dropping and dragging them into a composer program. I kept mixing down as I worked — I would bounce down with some different effects, and then bounce down again.

“What ended up happening was that after about the 40th bounce my program decided to become corrupt and I lost all the original files. It got to the point where I had no idea if there was one loop going, or eight.”

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