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.