At the Bayou last night, Ministry proved that while leader Al Jourgensen's ears may have been seduced by the synth-wave coming out of England, and while his eyes may have been entranced by the fey asexuality of Culture Club's Boy George, his feet remain solidly grounded in American funk, the smooth Chic version.
Though it's not entirely new, it's a fresh, full sound reflecting the leader's deejay instincts (he used to spin discs in dance clubs before he started making them for the same crowd).
At times, however, the Ministry sound became entirely predictable, particularly when the emphasis was on four synthesizers and Stephen George's neo-synth drums (his playing was so tight, sharp and unemotional that one was tempted to view him as a plugged-in mannequin). The song structures seem built around frenetic doodling, with Ministry letting the eminently danceable pulse carry the entire weight, a sturdy frame without a hook to hang a melody on.
When Jourgensen picked up a guitar, it loosened the sound considerably. Among the best offerings: "Work for Love," its chanted chorus serving as an effective underpinning for the group's dance stance, and "I Wanted to Tell Her," which featured a shouting soul vocal by Shay Jones over an elastic melody and a sinewy chorus from the band. The night was full of intriguing pulses but too often they seemed unconnected to a human heartbeat.