Paul Van Dyk
Europe tends to take its electronic dance music much more seriously than America, so it’s no surprise that Paul Van Dyk, one of the top DJs in the world, hails from Germany. Since the early 90’s, this prolific artist has tackled creating, producing, and mixing trance and dance music, all while earning dozens of awards around the globe. So how does Evolution, his first studio album in five years, hold up to that hype? In a word: effortlessly.
Part of Van Dyk’s brilliance is that he makes electronic music that doesn’t sound like a remix. The synthesizers and keyboards work together to craft churning, atmospheric soundscapes that don’t need to be spoiled with overly aggressive bass or drum machines. While some tracks clock in around the standard of three minutes, a few stretch on for more than six, allowing the vocals and instrumentation to have their time to shine.
Collaboration is truly the key to Evolution being much more than a dance record. Van Dyk has tapped some of the world’s biggest names in electronic music and trance, including Arty and Giuseppe Ottaviani. At the same time, Van Dyk doesn’t settle for any old lyrics going over his music. Instead, the words are meaningful and worth reading, even if a dancing crowd might not pick up on these nuances. “I Don’t Deserve You,” featuring Plumb on vocals, describes the feeling of being undeserving of someone’s love while relying on it at the same time, and the track stood out to me immediately upon my first listen. Another notable track, “Everywhere,” featuring Fieldwork (former Vega4 frontman Johnny McDaid), captures the heartache of being haunted by the image of a former lover, but it still has a brilliant hook to make it catchy.