JEFF MILLIGAN with ERIC DOWNER and LEE OSBORNE at Toi Bar (577a College), Friday (January 12). Free. www.fukhouse.ca. Rating: NNNNN
Considering that Jeff Milligan is best known for his considerable skills manipulating turntables, it's surprising how eagerly he anticipates the demise of what's been his main tool since his early days DJing techno in the early Toronto scene.
"A lot of record labels disagree with me about this, but I think it's time for vinyl to die. It's not really necessary any more," the outspoken techno head proclaims from his temporary Toronto crash pad.
"There are a lot of sonic limitations on how it has to be mastered, and the only people who actually get paid for sure in the scheme of selling records are the oil and forestry companies. With no oil and no trees, there'd be no records, period. Cutting that out of the mix is just responsible."
Like an increasing number of DJs, Milligan relies increasingly on the new generation of computer programs that use special records pressed with time code to control audio files on a laptop, giving him the same interface and control of actual vinyl, but without the backbreaking crates and environmental guilt.
The limitations of the technology mean that he still needs to bring some records if he's to rock more than two channels, but he's clearly looking forward to the day he can leave them behind.
"People have to stop looking at turntables as things that play records and start looking at them as things that control recordings. One guy was arguing with me the other day, trying to tell me that because I can see the waveform on the laptop, it's cheating."
Accusing Milligan of using technology to make up for missing skills is pretty much a losing battle. At a time when producers with little DJing ability rule the A-list, Milligan is one of the shrinking breed of performers who are actually doing something back there.
He takes the craft very seriously, probably more so than is healthy. The legend of his mind-blowing mixes is also spotted with the occasional meltdown, generally the result of a failure to perform to his own high standards.
"Ninety-nine per cent of the infamous little freak-outs that I've had have been related to technical issues, which is something I'm embarrassed by, because I should roll with it a little easier, but I guess I get caught up in my own shit sometimes.
"When you're doing a lot more, there's a lot more that can go wrong. When you're not doing much and you can't fuck up much and your audience doesn't necessarily know much, there's nothing much that can go wrong.
"I'm not trying to brag or show off, but my style needs more than two turntables. Otherwise, it doesn't really translate well - it becomes too linear. It's just the way I DJ."