Like many other label/club/brands Ministry of Sound puts out a yearly compilation of dance music. Unlike other dance music conglomerates they put out different versions of the Annual in different countries. I’ve seen UK, US, Australian and German versions. I’m guessing they are attempting to pitch each collection at what they perceive to be the differing tastes of dance music fans in each country. With that thought in mind I picked up the German version because I thought Germany’s preeminence in the world of electronic dance music ought to result in a compilation aimed at a knowledgeable and discerning audience. In other words, I expected the German Annual to be the most interesting of the three. It is also three CDs while the others I saw are two.
The discs are mixed but little real thought or effort has gone into sequencing. It’s basically just one beat-matched song after another without a break between tracks. If you know someone who thinks big-name DJ mix CDs are just some guy playing a bunch of songs, play your favorite DJ mix CD for them and then any of the three discs in the German Annual. The contribution of a good DJ should be obvious pretty quickly.
If this is Ministry of Sound’s idea of the kind of music their most sophisticated audience is tuned in to, I think I’d best avoid the compilations from other countries. The German version of the Annual is basically three discs of bangin’ club music with a fairly strong emphasis on vocal content. Much of it is cliche-ridden and fairly unimaginative. One the one hand, with three discs there’s a lot of music here. On the other hand, it gets old fast and you’ve still got the rest of disc 1 plus all of discs 2 and 3 to go.
Ministry of Sound began as a dance club in London that was modeled on New York’s legendary Paradise Garage. The club opened in 1991.. Ministry of Sound and has since grown to be a multimedia entertainment brand with a record label, radio network, clothing brand etc. The record label has put out numerous DJ mix series over the years with their Club series being the latest. CDs in the series are projected to include two discs; one containing a mix the DJ would do on a Saturday night in the club and the second featuring the DJ’s own compositions and remixes. The collection by SOS is the first in the series.
SOS, which stands for SexOnSubstance, are Omid “16B” Nourizadeh, Demi Hajigeorgiou, and Desyn Masiello. They were a good choice to kick off the Club series. Disc 1 does just what’s it’s supposed to do – lay down a dance floor mix that’s tight, right and peak night. SOS ease you in for maybe two minutes and then hit the 4/4 and start to ramp up the intensity. Ramp it up , hold, ramp it up, hold . . . hold, hit it! Rinse and repeat. These guys know what they’re doing and they do it well. Disc one is a straightforward house club mix seasoned with nu-disco and funk and it rocks. If this one doesn’t get your ass in the air go back to Mom and Dad and ask for a reboot ’cause something ain’t right.
Although the idea for disc 2 was to present a collection of the DJ’s compositions and remixes that’s not really what we get. SOS are only credited with 2 of the tracks on the second disc. Five of the remaining 11 tracks were written or co-written by Omar 16B and the rest are by other people. Some of these are tracks that were released on Omid’s label SoulOnWax. What connection the others have with SOS is unclear.
As expected of a set that compiles original compositions and remixes, disc 2 doesn’t have the linear drive and power of the club mix on disc one. If you listen to disc two right after disc one it’s easy to go “meh”. But that would be a mistake. Taken on its own terms – in other words, don’t listen to it immediately following disc one – it has its own strengths.
As with disc 1, the music on disc 2 is fairly straightforward house music. As with a good deal of straightforward house music, there’s a tendency to let 2 bar patterns go on for too long with only minor, if any, variation but this isn’t as big a problem for SOS as it is for some other music producers. Omid B’s “Sequential 002: Same as You” does a nice job of combining a heavy 4/4 house backbeat with a jazz sax solo. While still clearly in the House mode, the final three tracks introduce more variation than the others in terms of rhythmic patterns and sonic palattes. These are the three tracks that don’t have any apparent connection with SOS and they sound like they were mixed by the trio but didn’t fit on the first disc.
Based on Club, SOS’s strengths lie more in the DJ than the music production realm but there are more than a few good tracks on disc 2. Which is gravy, really, because disc 1 is good enough to justify giving the set a try.
To get a feel for a mix you have to listen to the mix, not individual tracks, but here’s Silver City’s “Pendulo (Pete Herbert edit)” to give you an idea of the kind of music on disc 1
From disc 2, the SOS edit of Latenta Project’s “Beach Combers”