World famous German-born DJ and producer Paul van Dyk is back after four years with his fifth proper album, the just-released CD In Between, and his first studio output since being nominated for a Grammy (2005) for his last album Reflections.
While some fans and critics, fairly or unfairly, dissed that album's (car) commercial appeal - it even featured a guest rapper, a la Paul Oakenfold's "Starry-Eyed Surprise" - and for being both trendy and behind the times, this new release is an almost back-to-basics trance album. Almost.
For those who still enjoy the idea of physically buying CDs, this album flows as a continuous mix CD - unless you order it digitally, which comes unmixed. That works for the care-free listener, one with a long-term attention span. And In Between is indeed long, running nearly seventy-eight minutes total. But it could have been even longer and perhaps marketed as a double album if PVD wanted, because he wrote twenty-eight songs over three years for the In Between project. Instead, he settled on the current set of tracks, plus a bonus track called "Next Generation" that was offered only on pre-orders of the album on iTunes.
The first single, "White Lies," features personal, yet catchy and confident vocals from one Jessica Sutta of the Pussycat Dolls and is already heating up the charts, having landed at the #8 spot on Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart. Its heavy, thumping beats and synths, and the very pretty, reverb-heavy, harp-fueled and twinkle star melodies, during extensive breakdowns and elsewhere, characterize this standout track, even if it's van Dyk's latest and not so subtle attempt to crossover into today's dance pop phenomenon.
Not that it's a bad thing, of course, but unlike some past attempts, this performance will most likely gin up more praise than cries of sellout or blatant trend follower, which would be the ultimate insult for this electronic music pioneer. Part of PVD's genius as a producer this time around is to take new sounds and material not heard before on previous albums and use them to modernize trance and keep it sounding fresh, even while crossing the roads of familiar genres every now and then.
For people who like to be entertained for short lengths of time, about two-thirds of the seventeen tracks are under five minutes, including most of the poppier and sure-to-be hit singles which, depending on which track, incorporate elements of everything from electro-house ("White Lies") to a 'lil rock guitar.