Well, no point in pussy-footing around: Mark Farina’s turn stepping up to the Ministry of Sound Sessions series is a complete disappointment. The house DJ’s famous for his role in Mushroom Jazz and really maximizing the potential of jazz in house music—and rightly so. But on this bloated double disc, jazz is a crutch that adorns a repetitive, tired house sound. When we have such darkly compelling takes on house as the Knife, not to mention the re-rise of disco and the ubiquitous influence of electro, you know dance music has moved far beyond the nn-tsk nn-tsk driven mid-‘90s techno sound. Farina throws everything he has at this mix—from hip-hop to jazzy melodies to fragments of spoken word (this last the most common, as on the cut-up acid talk of Nick Chacona’s “Pool Party”). But throughout, the straining-to-be-free tracks can’t kick this helplessly monotonous beat. On “Going to a Show” by 12, it’s the glitches of minimal techno subverted by the house beat; on Late Night Society’s “Rebalance” it’s Lindstrom-esque space disco subverted by the same. Homero Espinosa’s “Can You Feel Me?” comes closest, with a syncopated percussive effect and vocals tripping over each other in confusion. Farina’s own tracks are no standouts either: echoing with one-note calls of “house”, he seems to be grasping at an idol who’s callously turned the other way.
// Notes from the Road
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