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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • Teaser trailer - BPM Game Trailer
  • 5 Featurette - Miami Dance Music Conference, Sydney Chillout Session, Ibiza Weekend, Berlin Love Parade, Fergie in Belfast
Ministry of Sound - The Annual 2003
Warner Music/Warner Music . R4 . COLOR . 144 mins . E . PAL


Everyone should have at least seen a Ministry of Sound CD somewhere on their journey through a CD shop. Recently, the international label has taken off with the releases of the ChillOut Sessions, a mood of music currently sweeping the world. Each year the Ministry gathers the latest and greatest dance, house, electronic, chillout and techno hits and places them in an Annual. The Ministry of Sound Annual 2003 DVD showcases fifteen of the biggest international hits from the past year, mixed the way that only the Ministry know how. Sadly this means that 45 tracks were omitted from the full 2003 Annual (the International Version that is)... yet doesn’t DVD have a larger capacity than CD? Oh well...

After the initial 43 second introduction about copyright and all that other crud, viewers are welcomed with a warning for viewers with photosensitive epilepsy. OK, most of you are probably thinking: “yeah right, some Playstation games have that and are harmless,” but this one should be adhered to. Think of a black screen. OK, you got that? Now think of a white screen, got that one? OK, now switch between the two quickly when sitting in the dark, and tell me what you get? A splitting headache! Correct! But don’t let this deter you - this is just one part of the second to last track. This DVD is the ultimate party DVD, the perfect companion to turn on the television, crank up the sound system and go off for 72 minutes.

This DVD has two 72-minute “features” which both utilise the same audio mix. One title is the Audio Visual Global Trip, and the other is a VJ Graphic mix. After reviewing the Universal Stories of Dance that featured visuals such as this, expectations were quite low. After watching the Audio Visual Global Trip, these expectations were realised. Who wants to watch a bunch of people you've never met before dance and wave at a camera? Boring! Now moving on to the VJ Graphic mix, with even lower expectations. But wow, if only it could have been 144 minutes of this graphics mix! The artistry displayed on screen is simply stunning, combining some of the most advanced video editing and multimedia techniques available to date with a pulsating soundtrack. OK, its not the sort of thing you sit down and watch, but it can easily be appreciated. Artist and animator Christian Saunders has created a multimedia gem, combining slide puzzles, 3D WinAmp-like equalisers, retro shapes and hypnotic sequences into a mesmerising trip through the music of 2002. The only downside to these visuals is that they are in separate titles. Why didn’t they use multiple angles so you can easily switch between the two? Bloody good question, because it is painful as you need to go back to the menu, select the other playing option and then find your position again. If Shrek gets multiple angles for the opening credits and titles then this disc definitely deserves them!

This music mix, if only 15 tracks, does boast some of the biggest club hits of the past year, featuring international artists including Flip & Fill, N-Trance and Trinity-X. Female singer Kelly Llorenna (the diva behind the haunting lyrics of N-Trance’s 1993 smash hit Set You Free) provides the vocals for the closing of the audio mix for both N-Trance’s 2002 hit Forever and her own release Tell It To My Heart.

This condensed version of the Ministry of Sound 2003 Annual CD set is sure to please most house, club, techno, electronic and dance enthusiasts, and is sure to kick off a kickarse party. Who needs to hire a DJ when you can have the Ministry provide both stunning generated visuals as well as an awesome audio mix featuring some of the most powerful and played tracks of the past year? Bring it on Annual 2004!

Track listing...

2 Heads – Out of the City (City Slickers Extended)
M001 – So Fly (Hot 22 Remix)
Julie McKnight – Home
Coloursound – Fly With Me (Main Mix)
Raven Maize – Fascinated (Joey Negro Club Mix)
Stereopol featuring Nevada – Dancin’ Tonight (Love II Infinity Master Mix)
Distant Soundz – Runaway (Stella Browne Remix)
Matt Schwartz presents Sholan – Can You Feel (What I’m Going Through) (Club Mix)
Hi-Gate – Saxuality”
Klea – Tic Toc (Magik Muzik Remix)
Warrior – If You Want Me (Instrumental Club Mix)
Trinity-X – Forever (Flip & Fill Remix)
Flip & Fill – Shooting Star
N-Trance – Forever (Voodoo & Serano Edit)
Kelly Llorenna – Tell It To My Heart


Presented in the 16x9 enhanced widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, the Ministry’s first DVD rocks into the living room with a bold and powerful punch. The video transfer is not perfect, but when you’re dancing the night away, who really cares? It’s not like someone’s fine hair or sharp features are important for this sort of disc. But anyway... Blacks are bold, deep, dark and foreboding, giving a dark club-like feel to the visuals. Colours are bright, rich and vibrant, displaying stunning results and energetic colour. Sadly some slight bleeding occurs due to the sharp transitions between the black and the colours. But as asked before, who really cares for this sort of disc? This dual layered DVD9 has a layer change in between titles as no pause is detected in either of the 72-minute mixes or any of the features.

We are treated to three audio tracks for the 72-minute mixes, all English and all the same audio track, just slightly different Dolby Digital configurations. One is a hi-fi stereo mix (a surround-encoded stereo track), the next is a full on 5.1 mix and the last is a true television stereo mix. Wow, three audio tracks to review... how to cope? Well, firstly, the hi-fi mix was given a run for its money, and it delivers pleasing results. Bass levels are reasonable yet a tad low, making the audio mix lose some of the lower frequencies. The pitch of the hi-fi mix is slightly higher than the 5.1 mix, yet gives a clear sound. The 5.1 track by far takes the cake. Grab the volume and pump it up as this disc gives your sound system a real work out. For bass fans, this disc is sure to please, giving a floor-vibrating, window-shaking, light-wobbling and stomach-churning subwoofer channel, and crisp audio from all of the other speakers. Panning is used well through the five remaining speakers for effectual purposes, and gives a superb rendition of the Ministry mix. As for the final track, the television stereo track, turn it off, turn it off! It sounds terrible, and just think of the extra songs that could have been included if this track was omitted. Oh well... The sound is very tinny and metallic, with relatively no bass and incredibly high treble levels. Even if you only have a television, the hi-fi mix carries the necessary supporting bass line. Synchronisation between the visuals and the audio is spot on, and increases the effect of the entire show.

The extra features consist of five mini-featurettes on different locations around the world and the club culture that has shaped these regions or shaped the communities around them, as well as a trailer for the BPM game.

The Miami Dance Music Conference is a 4:33 look at this conference in Miami that draws in DJs from around the world, as well as hardcore dance enthusiasts. This features two background audio tracks, starting with Lazy by xPress 2 featuring David Byrne followed by Shifter by Timo Maas featuring M.C. Chickaboo.

The Sydney Chillout Session is a 4:12 look at four mates living in Manly near Sydney. This features background audio by Chicane with a track called Saltwater.

The Ibiza Weekend is a 5:54 look at the island of Ibiza in Spain, and the clubbing culture that this island has developed. This features an audio track called Do It All Night by The Nightgroovers featuring Deanna.

The Berlin Love Parade is a 4:53 look at this popular electronic music event and features interviews with Berlin-native Paul Van Dyk as well as background audio by Active X with a track called Let’s Go.

The Fergie In Belfast featurette is a 4:31 look at Belfast in Northern Ireland and local DJ Fergie, and features background audio by Tony De Vit with a track called The Dawn followed by You Got Me On by DJ Fergie as well as At Night by Shakedown.

The BPM Game Trailer runs for 0:42 and is a trailer for the Playstation 2 game.

Include this one in your shopping trolley for your next party. Turn on the television, crank up the sound system and rock on! Who ever said that television was a passive activity? This disc just proves them wrong!

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  •   And I quote...
    "The Ministry hits home on DVD packed with an awesome punch and a powerful launch of the label onto DVD."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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