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CD Review: Paul Van Dyk – Politics of Dancing 2

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Paul Van Dyk is a man who needs no introduction within the dance community. He probably doesn’t need much of an introduction outside of it either. So all I’m saying is that I would feel kind of silly spending the time in doing so. If you need a refresher, go to any club that plays any kind of trance music and ask the DJ to play his/her copy of “For An Angel.” If he/she cannot oblige, then walk out the door and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction, because that person is an alien and about to force a mating ritual upon you (and not the pleasant kind, if you get my drift) in order to help their race populate the earth and turn mankind into puppy chow. You think I’m kidding? I see they’ve gotten to you too…

But seriously, they are an alien. And Paul Van Dyk is that well-respected within the trance community. He has been setting trends for longer than most DJs have been able to follow them, and between his artist albums and prolific remix work he has amassed a body of work that has helped set the foundation for much of modern dance music. But still he is through all things a DJ at heart. Surprisingly, though, that’s not what most of us usually hear from him. Unless you live near the major markets in the US, or make frequent roadtrips to the festivals within Europe, you may not have had much opportunity to experience his mixing. He loves DJing, but has been hesitant to put out the requisite “mix albums”, for fear that the energy of a live set would not translate well to plastic. And so many of us have just had to settle for occupying our time with other things, like eating and working. Possibly even taking in sporting events with our friends, or doing charity work involving nail guns and paint fumes (is there any other kind?).

That all changed back in 2001 when Paul released his first proper mix set entitled The Politics of Dancing. It was, and still is, a great set, and proved to everyone within kickdrum distance that apparantly Paul had been wrong all this time about being able to translate some energy without a crowd in front of him. It also proved that dancing is, somehow, potentially political, as any viewing of West Side Story will quickly prove. Dancing is dangerous, and nonstop, it would seem… But now it’s 2005 and we’re finally treated to the follow-up (no one can accuse him of flooding the market with these things…), The Politics of Dancing 2.

Catchy sequel name aside, this is by all accounts an even more impressive set than the first. Van Dyk has joined the elite company of Sasha and Armin Van Buuren in DJs who have taken the leap from vinyl to becoming all tech-nified by using computers and Ableton Live software to construct and deconstruct sets. This is important to know, because one of the things that makes Politics 2 so enjoyable is the fact that it has a distinct PVD stamp all over it. By utilizing some newer technoligies at his disposal, the uniqueness of the mix has been upped due to his ability to remix and remangle tracks to create a deeper, more textured flow. It’s hard to know where his legacy influence over newer producers ends and his own current production tricks on singles begins.

The sound overall is a refreshing mix of trance that sounds like a genre that knows where it wants to go (which is nice, since a couple of years ago it didn’t a lot of the time). It ranks up there with Armin’s consistency, and Markus Schulz’s refreshing programming, in setting the bar for others to follow. And it’s just enjoyable. There is a lightness to the tracks that is confident enough in its euphoric lift that anything darker and heavier would just be awkward and unpleasant in this context. I really was trying to be objective and find something to fault with this release, but I really couldn’t think of too much. I’ve been listening to it non-stop out of pleasure and habit now, long after the necessary spins needed to write a review ended.

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About David R Perry

  • http://www.djhorus.com DJ Horus

    This review is rather heavy on back story and light on actual content. You do nothing in the way of discussing specific tracks, and much of that background information is ill-informed.

    The politics refers generally to the political problems that dance music has faced ever since the Stonewall “rebellion” in the early 60’s. The only link between this and WSS is that they both took place in New York. More specifically to PVD, he speaks of the issues he’s faced with holding the Love Parade in Berlin.

    The whole point of the TPOD series was to take tracks that were relatively unknown to the dance floor, completely rework them, and present them in a set. If you took the time to listen to the first release, you’d see this right away.

    As to your, at best shaky review, how can you say that this is a more impressive release than the first? This release has some flow on the first disk, but jumps around like a hyper kid on the second, going from vocal trance to house to tech trance all in few songs. Also, you neglect to mention the fact that all of the tracks he used had been played out this entire summer (and some even before then).

    How can you call it “refreshing” and “unique”? The only real production work involves adding his trademark drumbeat and the “i’m-about-to-transition” whoosh sound. Nothing more.

    Really, it would have been nice if you did your homework, and actually listened to the album rather than just making things up as you go along. You lack specific examples to back up your review, and to be honest, just sounds like an advertisement.

  • http://www.davidrperry.com David R Perry

    Hi DJ Horus,

    First off, I do appreciate your comments. You sound informed and make some good points. But a couple of things I wanted to clear up from my side:

    Yes, I realize that the PoD title refers to history with both obstacles to rave culture in the past, as well as Paul’s own work to get youth and dance culture more involved in causes through his own political activism. But it was more just a flippant remark, as I really don’t think the title is all that important to a music review.

    You kind of contradict yourself on paragraphs 2 & 3. You say the point of the series (which wasn’t a “series” until this new release) was meant to introduce new tracks, but then you say these new ones are all played out. Perhaps that might have been the point of the first, but I think his own reworking of tracks in general is more the direction of the second.

    However, I think a CD release should be held in light of other CD releases not live sets, in which case these are still pretty fresh tracks (relative to other released sets, that is). For those who have access to weekly A State of Trance shows and the like, or have been festival-ing it up this summer, then you’re right, many of them have been around the block a while now. (Personally, I thought it was kind of odd that “The Other Side”, the “new PVD track”, which is a feature for the release, certainly has been in everyone’s rotation much of the year.)

    When I wrote this I intentionally avoided mentioning specific tracks because I felt that saying things like “that Kyau vs. Albert track is great” might be unnecessary, as looking at the tracklist is either going to communicate to someone or it isn’t (my mentioning won’t help without getting into way too much backstory). But I’m rethinking that now, and you have a valid point that it could have used some more detail there at the end. I kind of wish I could go back and flesh that out more, but such is life…

    But I stick to this being a solid mix. Because it is. Jumping around? Not enough to bother me at al, that was more Tiesto on ISOS4 (which sounded… well, really sloppy, and like he forgot how to mix altogether). I think this is a return to a solid PVD sound that was unfortunately missing in Reflections, and now it’s back in the form of his latest mixset. “Advertisement”? No, I just genuinely really like this mix.

    Thanks again for your comments. Feel free to leave more thoughts (need more good discussions for dance releases on BC!)
    DRP

  • Damian

    I just bought it today and im really excited to hear it, im out of the trance tunes these days but hell its Van Dyk and i bet something is in this two CD’s , las PoD was awesome, and surely this one will keep up with new material.
    But like always there CD’s that for some people are excellent for others are plain boring, but lets not argue on that, hehe better let the sales of the CD’s tell how good it is.
    :) Cheers!
    Damian

  • Mr Minister

    You can find interesting review of this compilation here

  • http://trancefix.nl Dj Vascog

    Yes, armin van buuren has switched over to virtual digi high tech stuff for years…..