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Armin van Buuren – Shivers

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Wow, this is a hot album – the kind that grabs you from the beginning and hangs on. Shivers, the new artist album from Armin van Buuren releasing August 23rd, shows strong growth in Armin’s songwriting and could just rival Tiesto’s Just Be as a dance artist album. It deserves a listen outside of van Buuren’s strong trance fan base.

While I very much enjoyed 76, Armin’s first solo album, especially tracks like “Burned With Desire” and “Never Wanted This”, I find Shivers to be a much stronger and consistent album overall. Providing strong support on a number of tracks are various guest collaborations. Two standouts emerge from a couple of the hottest acts in dance music right now: Gabriel & Dresden on “Zocalo” and Nadia Ali from Iio on “Who Is Watching”. I find the collaborations on this album to be very natural. The album just flows better than some other collaborative dance albums, such as Oakenfold’s Bunkka.

“Zocalo” sports a minimalist groove held together by a haunting tremolo guitar riff. It’s a bit subtle on first listen, but really opens up in headphones with a lot of interesting layering and a strong build. The opening track, “Wall of Sound”, showcases the return of Justine Suissa, vocalist on 76’s “Burned With Desire” and this track just works all around. Great opener to the album that gets better with each listen and should be a big hit in the club scene. “Empty State”, co-written with Markus Schultz and Mic Burns, features a beautiful Mic Burns vocal with lyrics that get in your head and stick there. Some cool touches here on the backing vocals, as well as some BT-style vocal edits. And of course the title track is already well on its way to being another dance floor classic. Those are a few of the standout tracks for me.

Overall, the album finds a nice mix of van Buuren’s signature sugary sweet trance production and the kind of harder-edged tech trance he’s been featuring in his live shows. Long-time fans will find plenty to like here, but might find themselves stretched just a bit as the album ventures out into some new musical directions. Lyrically, Armin’s work with other writers has both helped to improve his own songwriting and create a stronger album overall.

Ed and Pub:LM

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  • Wow, coolness on Blogcritics.

    I’m not a huge fan of Armin’s production work, although he has a couple of good remixes and a couple of classic trance tunes like “Communication” and “Touch Me” under his Rising Star moniker.

    But I love him as a DJ and I find that I and most other DJs who play trance are most influenced by Armin’s playlists than anyone else now. Tiesto may be the most popular and make the most money, but almost everyone thinks he’s on the downside as a DJ. Armin simply picks better songs for his DJ sets and his record labels (Armada, State of Trance, Armind, etc.) release more hot trance than almost anyone these days.

    Along with Paul Van Dyk (and his Vandit record label), Ferry Corsten (and his Tsunami record label), and top producers Above & Beyond (and their Anjunabeats record label), Armin is an undisputed leader of trance music today and perhaps the biggest figure in promoting it.

    He will be #1 within 2 years on that silly DJ Mag Top 100 List. People are starting to really complain about Tiesto’s style of DJing and Armin’s on the way up.

    That is all.

  • Curtis, please do review more dance and/or trance music. It’s the future of the music industry and the present in Europe and much of the rest of the world and it’s a very good thing to see on BlogCritics.

    The single “Shivers” is just OK to me, but I might have to check this album out of the collaborations with Gabriel & Dresden (among the hottest remixers and producers working today out of San Francisco and the writers of trance hits such as “As the Rush Comes” by Motorcycle), Markus Schultz (a top progressive, melancholic trance producer and DJ out of Miami) and Justine Suissa (the singer for many top vocal trance acts, including Oceanlab, Above & Beyond’s other side project).

    Oakenfold lost his soul with “Bunkka” and I didn’t really feel much of Tiesto’s “Just Be.” Tiesto has some legendary remixes under his belt (like Jan Johnston’s “Flesh,” Delerium’s “Silence” (which samples Sarah McLachlan), and Oakenfold’s “Southern Sun”) but his work as a producer largely leaves me cold. His take on the “Adagio for Strings,” for example, is largely unoriginal and comes YEARS after his more talented former production partner in Gouryella, Ferry Corsten, did it first and much better.

    Have you heard of a producer named Matti Laamanen, Curtis? He’s a discovery of Ferry Corsten’s whose tracks are featured on a few of Ferry’s mix CDs who also produces under the aliases Sundawner and Cosmicman. I think he’s going to be the next big thing in trance as a producer.

    That is all.

  • Hi, Bob

    Thanks for the comments. Sounds like we have some similar feelings on certain albums. I’m getting ready to review the new In Search of Sunrise. To be honest, I don’t like it as well as some of the other mix albums, but it’s growing on me. I wanted to give it a chance before completing my review. I will check out Matti, sounds interesting. I like a lot of Ferry Corsten’s stuff as well.