Stay away. Seriously.
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.