Remembering Witt

By all accounts Witt Mills was a renaissance man whose untimely death, in a kayaking accident in August of 2000, came as a shock to all who knew him. At 29 years old, Mills left behind a musical legacy that until now has gone largely unheard.

Marking its 10-year anniversary, Old Gold Records has issued Dust Collection Agency, 14 songs and one short film that offer the first substantial documentation of Mills' work. In honor of the release, The Earl is hosting a party featuring performances from Mills' peers, including Cat Power's Chan Marshall, DQE, Tijuana Hercules and more.

Throughout the early 1990s in Atlanta, and later in Portland, Ore., Mills performed in noise, rock and improv acts, including Legion of Doom and Charlie Parker. He played several instruments, from saxophone to bass, but it was his time making music on a four-track that defined his style.

He amassed hours of recordings, dabbling in everything from pop to droning dissonance masked by the hiss of home recording. The imperfections become inseparable from the music.

During his lifetime, Mills and Old Gold had discussed releasing his material, but Mills was never satisfied with his work "Some of these songs go back as far as 1994," says Old Gold co-owner Ben Young. "Witt never dated his tapes very well, but this is the best of the material. I think he'd be happy with it."

The Witt Mills Dust Collection Agency CD release party is at The Earl (488 Flat Shoals Ave.) on Fri., Jan. 16. $8.