The mere mention of Ministry of Sound (hereafter referred to as MoS) conjures up a myriad of different images upon the mind. It boasts a six stack Valve sound system that stakes a claim for the coveted title of ‘best in the world’, an endless list of DJ talent that have graced the turntables, a six minute visit (that’s right six whole minutes) in 1995 by football God Maradona, a successful record label and a stream of popular compilations and paraphernalia. One thing is certain, the Fort Knox of the London house music scene has over 20 years of service to an ever faithful crowd and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.
A surprisingly balmy February evening in the capital greeted a host of established and contemporary performers to fill a more than satisfactory roster of house music talent. Argentinean powerhouse Hernan Cattaneo (you understand the Maradona link now) returned for his first visit in 2012 for a 3 hour set in the Box room, preceded by Oliver Lieb and Jimmy Van M, who were launching their new Collaborations album on John Digweed’s Bedrock label.
MoS spans five separate individual areas, so the supporting cast was both abundant and high quality for Promotions Company Fly or Die’s 4th birthday. The Loft had a get together of DJ’s of Tomas Teex, Johny Disco, MrMo, Kmp, B23 and Edvard Monogram to set the celebrations alight with music that varied from laid back and soulful to downright funky. A perfect place to start the night.
In the 103 room there was another album launch (Anjunadeep: 04) that took in sets from Jaytech and James Grant, who join forces on the latest instalment of the popular mix album series. With support from Greame Lloyd and Digital Mike the 103 room really reinforced the sound of the Anjunadeep label, melodic and embracing progressive house that builds and cascades. The music was certainly a firm confirmation of the new albums credentials, reinvigorating the trance/ prog house sound, to a contemporary audience who appreciated every moment.
An honourable mention has to go out to the Flat 7 records crowd, who ran the risk of succumbing to such a hefty line up but managed to put on a tasty tech house session in the Baby Box. Tucked away in this intimate little corner of the expansive club there was a sizable crowd filling up on tight house beats.
The Box houses one of the best sound systems in Europe if not the world and the headline acts proved more than a workout for its potential. I say potential because it allegedly never surpasses more than 32% of its output. Judging by Oliver Lieb and Jimmy Van M’s performance it may have surpassed that. They churned out some top quality music over 3 hours that blended crackling house hooks, smoking tech grooves and fiery throbbing beats. It is clear why Oliver and Jimmy (otherwise known as The Audible Suspects) collaborated and also clear why Digweed signed the duo to his label. They don’t create sound, they manufacture it, bolting together futuristic elements of techno, house and electro structuring an atmosphere that grabs hold, never letting go.
It was down to Cattaneo to show what the Box’s system was really capable of, proving that its limits could not only be surpassed but advanced. It is obvious why the MoS has secured his talent on a Bi-Monthly basis because his discerning knowledge of the venue backed by a deep-rooted proficiency with house music is unquestionable. The bass driven breakdowns ripped through the crowd, kicking up a frenzy that was only soothed with drifting melodies and interludes. Cattaneo’s main appeal is not the skill to destroy all that he surveys but a ability not often seen; the ability to create an organism that grows in each moment that passes, breathing new life in to every bass line, breakdown arc and booming kick drum. The crowd were clutching the air well in to the early hours of the morning.
Ministry is long since established as a dance music landmark and judging by their taste in performers it will live for a long, long time.