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Go BackNEWSFLASH! Ministry No Longer Sinister! Famine-Relief CD Drop! Secret Underground 'Fun' Movement. It's Ibiza's nastydirtysexmusic in Ministry London

Posted: 25/11/04 8:57

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NEWSFLASH! Ministry No Longer Sinister! Famine-Relief CD Drop! Secret Underground 'Fun' Movement. Famous Lookalikes!.. stop the press it's Ibiza's Nastydirtysexmusic in Ministry London.

It was a surprise to see Ministry. Like an old friend you see coming down the street and you can't decide if you should cross the road or give a big insincere 'Hello!'. I'm not against Ministry as many are. Example; DJ Magazine has not been there for years and refer to it as 'Misery of Sound'. The accepted line is that Ministry maybe played it a bit too large in the 90's, did a little too well too quickly and are almost responsible single-handedly for 'commercialising' our Electric Dream. I had some good nights there years ago but it has to be said, Ministry dropped off the Map a bit. Music changed but they didn't and some frankly awful Ibiza ventures (Big Night Out? nOoo!) put the final nails in the coffin.  However quietly and recently nights have been quietly havin' it down Elephant and Castle way. Recent Saville Row nights first introduced me to Tim Sheridan during his stint with Jon Carter and Dave Chambers as the Saville Row label team. A couple of great records in a Digital-Ragga style, some great Jon Carter moments and then... silence. Later Tim pops up with something new, perhaps the proto-incarnation of the nastydirtysound? the connection...? let's fast forward to now...

So to a cold Saturday in South London in November and nastydirtysexmnusic @ ministryofsound. As I said, I had some good nights there so I could see the sense in the Smokin/Sheridan happening there. Wasn't Jo a resident a million years ago? Wasn't it Tim's idea? He says in interview that the choice was to surprise people but mostly 2 things. One...in keeping with their 'philosophy' ; it's cheap in both ticket and bar. Two...
THE SYSTEM. The one thing you can never take away from a club and always judge it on is it's attention to sound. So Smokin' and Sheridan sought out the best sound. Simple. It seems these two go from strength to strength in pioneering a new way of deliberately avoiding 'cool' in favour of practicality and clubber-friendliness. Cool.

I guess the proof is in the tasting of the pudding as they say in London. If the huge queue and guestlist (300 people I was told! charitable!) is any evidence then believe it or not, Ministry is cool once more. What could be cooler than so many people, some great music and a cavalier attitude to money? It's the kind of 'cool' I like. Added frosty topping is in the form of Sir Norman Jay and Barry Ashworth as well as the top notch residents all at various points in the other rooms. Marc Hughes has particularly risen well, and his tunes as 'Hughes and Spier' are fantastic. Should be good night then. You have to start a top night by it working on paper right?

So once inside. The habit at Ministry is to have people enter the large 'Bar' area and smaller rooms and the main room, the 'Box', opens later to a rush of eager beavers at around 12.30/1am. Good idea on paper, but with all those bodies a little uncomfortable. The doors were opened with a theatrical flourish and we went inside. There it is...lurking in each of the 4 corners like creepy 2001 Monoliths. The Speakers. The nastydirtyduo were no messin'
straight on the decks. No warm ups or Prima Donna entrances, straight to the nitty gritty. It filled and started rockin' in a matter of minutes, like people rushing into a dark department store on the first day of the January sales! Everyone staking their spots. You could tell some little crowds had their places. Regulars. They didn't look like what I imagined a 'Ministry
regular' was. They were most irregular to start with! I guess this is where the free thinker types go. Who aren't on a fashion parade or too cool to have fun. Just people like you or me who love music not fashion. I felt pretty comfy. The sound built and built, a warm vibrating wall of crystal-clear frequencies. Lovely. It's enough of a reason to be here....

The music? always nasty, dirty and sexy. Simple It seems to be the theme of
this concept. Simple. Like Tesco supermarket no-frills line. Like Public Image Limited's anti-marketing. It seems the zeitgiest now is one of returning to the shop floor. No monotonous deep nothingness all night, too much like hard work. More like (ssshhh, whisper it!) ... There are big tunes you know (although not many), there are the weirdest excursions. There are Breaks and even a little Rock although the main course is Electro-inspired. How they fit together I can't say, but they do. Don't get me wrong, this is no eclectic mash up. No. It's fluid and consistent and gives off experience like a strong whiff from a thousand well-worked clubnights gone by. Like these two together know a thing or two and are confident enough to actually enjoy themselves. Crazy! whatever next? I heard some things that prompted me to ask what the tracks were. Time after time it would be a CDR exclusive and unavailable or even their own tracks. It weirdly manages to be fun, like DC10. But simultaneously underground as fuck (but not painfully so) and fun and accessible. I'm reminded a little of Timo Maas, a unique sound played by someone who loves it. I guess anybody can enjoy it if the Bass is right and that is what we get here. A lot of it on that system. A great night out.

To interrupt the flow of tunes there were some fun moments. As usual the odd celebrity arrives in the booth. Skin from Skunk Anansie made her regular appearance. I guess they pay her! Danny Tenaglia rather amazingly shows up again. What is it with these people?! maybe they hire look-a-likes? ...and who else? Why..
DJ Magazine of course, perhaps to see their features editor Carl playing in the other room, but judging by their photographer, they were in the house and having fun too! I saw many of the crazy kids from DC10 in the booth too, it was crowded in there so again, no DJ Divas these two. It really was a little slice of Ibiza in gloomy 'Sarf' London. Then suddenly "OH NO" please Mr Sheridan... Not the Microphone! the music is muted and just as we're expecting a Tenaglia style emotional outburst he announces "Free CDs, come and get 'em!". There was a biblical stampede to the booth. There was a forest of grasping hands as a smiling Smokin'Jo dishes out the gifts while a clearly 'refreshed' Sheridan laughs like a pissed Santa and stashes some in his box! Nice touches.

There was a good atmosphere in Ministry of sound it must be reported. There was some Ibiza love there and a lot of smiles but married to some very New Music. I like this new idea of what is cool. If cool is miserable but fashionable faces swaying (but not really dancing) to 'oh-so-cool' minimalism then call me square baby. I think it's pretty cool to give stuff away and ignore the cool-rules and just...deliver. And to be fair, Ministry are doing that too.
Welcome back Ministry!!!
...can I have my cat back now please? ;)





Words by Christian Pickersgill