06 10

Armand Van Helden Masterpiece Ministry of Sound


Ministry Of Sound’s Masterpiece series continues to bolster the more mature end of the electronic spectrum with its now estab- lished triple disc series pushing the outer musical limits of the protagonists they deem worthy. Previous notable contributors have included Andrew Weatherall, Carl Craig and Francois K. Whether Armand Van Helden, who hasn’t exactly been immune from musical mishaps (Duck Sauce’s Barbara Streisand anyone?) immediately fits this illustrious canon is a cause for debate. But it’s precisely this double-take which makes the most engaging feature of this compilation the fact Van Helden has presented a retrospective of influences that have defined his various Stateside musical walks, rather than a focus on anything too contemporary.

The first disc is a typically soulful US house affair based around the sounds that defined The Loft club in Boston where he cut his teeth. The second is a yacht rock selection of the kind of ilk which finds itself increasingly the retro penchant for people who want to identify exactly what their dad played on those long journeys, though that does a disservice to the music on display. The CD’s undoubted high-point is certainly the third disc, which takes a long-overdue retrospective glance at freestyle. Freestyle was a fast-paced style incorporating breaks and electro but with a soulful edge, which never really broke the UK. Its failure to ever ignite outside the underground has often been a bit of a mystery, and so seeing it resurface in such style on this final CD serves as a real education. Thanks Armand.