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Music Review: Paul van Dyk – Hands On In Between

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In Between was, overall, a bit of relief after Paul van Dyk’s previous artist album, Reflections. It returned not only to the feel of a mixed-album journey, but also to songs and styles that more suit Paul’s own style. Reflections found him reaching too much for turns at pop radio, many of which just fell disappointingly flat.

And although In Between had its share of radio reaches that didn’t soar quite as high as other tracks, it was much more focused, and with an overall higher level of quality. It sounded like Paul van Dyk. All that is to say that In Between is fairly good source material.

Which brings us to Hands On In Between, which falls into that ubiquitous post-album remix project. Is it another brazen cash-in, a holdover until another proper artist or DJ release? Yes. Yes it is.

But that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be enjoyable, which for the most part it very much is. Mining some of the talent from the trance community, it’s an extended take on the original, amping the four-on-the-floor up to required club levels.

Disc 1 starts off with a stormer of a track, Paul’s own remix of “Talk In Grey.” Probably the highlight of the set, this ramps up the energy to peak-time levels while still retaining the song structure of the original with solid vocals. It’s also the shortest on the set, functioning almost as a single with its efficient energy. Trance mainstay Alex M.O.R.P.H. follows with his remix for “In Circles,” and takes it on a driving, yet still ethereal journey. Overall a very solid remix. The John O’Bir mix of “Castaway” is a bit typical trance, but supports a nice track. It’s pleasantly forgettable.

The Super8 & Tab remix of “New York City” is the stronger of the two NYC mixes and delivers a darker, but excellent club track for this song. Kyau & Albert work their magic on “Complicated,” giving it an enticingly moody club texture, and show why they continue to be in-demand trance remixers. Jon Rundell’s mix of “Detournement” actually slows things down a minuscule amount, and although it’s a nice enough mix, it doesn’t particularly add anything to the track. Disc 1 closes with Mateo Murphy’s remix of “Far Away”, and is the one that breaks the mold a bit with this release. It’s an amped up thumper somewhere between trance and gritty prog-house, and whatever it lacks in direction it makes up for with energy.

Disc 2 begins with a very convincing attempt at an actual Paul van Dyk remix. Giuseppe Ottaviani’s mix of “Get Back” is very classic trance. Obviously indebted to others, but a strong and excellent mix. Martin Accorsi’s remix of “White Lies” is… someone spilled their house music on my trance track. Enough said. Fortunately, as a chaser, “Haunted” is treated to a very spacey, trippy turn by Tyler Michaud that offers an interesting new twist from the original.

Tom Calontonio gives “Complicated” the proper treatment, with another classic-style mix for this set. Although a bit by-the-books, his mix is nonetheless done absolutely correct, and with energetic precision. Ottaviani quickly returns with his Reminder remix of “Far Away,” and shows more classic PvD-style flair. The Re:locate mix of “Get Back” falls a bit short in light of the previous remix of this track, but is overall competently done. Things close out nicely enough with the Reaves & Ahorn take on “Detournement.” Again, the mix doesn’t particularly add much to the track, but neither does it bother.

The strength of the set may also be its greatest weakness for some. The energy level, as well as the style, stays consistent throughout. This is aggressive, pounding trance to end a night out. However, there’s also little variety to be found. The remixes are all solid on their own, but some tend to bleed into each other when played back to back. Also, it would have been more interesting to go ahead and remix everything from In Between instead of having multiple remixes of some tracks. For example, although both remixes of “New York City” are good, it would have added to the value of the package to instead have, say, a huge mix of “Another Sunday.”

Overall, these are largely quality mixes. Some add to the energy of the originals, while others merely extend and augment it. But fans of Paul’s DJ sets will find these unmixed entries to be in much the same vein.

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About David R Perry