On 6th October 2004 at 17:41 Anonymous 1055 wrote...
By Various Artists
If you are part of the clubbing scene at the moment, you will either already be familiar with these tunes, or you soon will be as they continue to make waves in the clubs. The chances are, if you already part of this scene, that you are also going to be well up for this album. As it says on the label, these are big tunes that are about living that scene. This is high energy, feel good music that succeeds in capturing the moment in all all its full on intensity of freedom, expression, fashion and musical exploration. Essentially this a bang up to date guide to what's hot now presented by the Ministry of Sound as a 38 track double album. If your into this particular vibe, you'll know the Ministry of Sound so I would preaching to the converted, if you don't know who the Ministry of Sound are, then maybe there are also a few aspects to this compilation worth investigating.
For a start this album is a classic diary of the years trends that are grooving and growing across the dance floors. The whole idea of a dance compilation albums has evolved quickly into a much more focused expression of current club culture, and I don't mean that in the sense of 'passing fashion' but in recognition of what really is shaping a culture, ( including the ring tones 1). Here are experimental ideas that explore the sound that little bit more, cleverly engineered noises and effects that are messing, collectively, with peoples minds and motions. Dropped out, old school styles, twisted around to break back into the pyrotechnics of cutting edge technological production. The dance club culture is tapping into so many musical sources and is evolving pretty quick, so I suppose you have to catch it the best you can whilst its happening, Big tunes attempts and succeeds to do just that. (You even get the the X-rated Eric Prydz video as an added bonus, so I was assured on the cover, but I couldn't find it on my copy!)
Compilation albums can conjure up images of 'Now that's what I call music 23' or 'The greatest rock hits all time', which have their place despite the libellous titles, but sometimes you get the impression that the main motivation behind their offering may not be particularly focused on the music. When a compilation album can sum up a popular sub culture, then maybe its worth taking a little more note about the motivation behind it. On 'Big tunes' you have two levels of sharp production, you have the individual songs, and you have the album as a whole. Both levels have been tackled by people who understand the dance culture and how to maintain a fresh, uppy vibe for 2 albums worth of tunes. Unlike the newest album from a band, a compilation aims to capture a the collective feel and vibe of the moment yet is able to maintain its freshness, and, as is certainly the case with Big Tunes, funky and ballsy enough to keep on bouncing. Although there is still a range of notable creative styles, personal explorations, interpretations and mixes on this album, one of its greatest successes is the way they are brought together, the choice, and almost as importantly, the placing of tunes is certainly very well thought out. Before you even get to looking at the individual tracks, the structure of the album is essential to its effect. It seems to almost have 'scenes' where a group of songs, or similar mixing styles of older songs are used to emphasise one another. This creates a flowing and balanced sound throughout. I can be a bit sceptical of near 'cover versions', but the mixes on here that do use samples all seem to be aiming to capture an essence from older classic hits and using that 'feel' as another instrument. But then you can start looking at it all too deeply, which never happens on a dance floor... lets say there is more to hear the more you listen.
I don't think you can sum up the dance club culture, more sub groups and genres are branching out constantly, but there is a core 'movement' that, without saying mainstream, appeals to a greater cross section of clubbers who get off on this positive, uppy vibe (you know who you are without further descriptions !) this album is very much about presenting that vibe with quality cutting edge examples of the genre. If you are out dancing and clubbing at the moment, this compilation is aimed at you. It's an excellent, bang up to date, young cultural album that delivers big club classics in a very intelligent presentation. Lots of fun and a lot more to the package than just a collection of tunes. I make no apologies for reviewing this album as a whole, partly because it is produced that way, and partly because that is the feeling in the clubs. A good night out consists of all the parts being in the rights places at the right times and Big Tunes is a condensed good weekend (and a little piece of modern art to boot).