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  Paul van Dyk - Reflections - Mute
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5

by Susan Tomasco

After three years, a double mix CD, a greatest hits compilation, and a Motorola ring tone, Paul van Dyk follows up with his fourth original material album, Reflections. The German DJ/producer demonstrates his song writing skills with thirteen tracks that cover a wide range of styles including trance, house, and breakbeats. Reflections is evidence that van Dyk has progressed as an artist since his successful release of 2000's Out There and Back. Van Dyk brings this album to the next level with extensive experimentation including co-producing with Vega-4 and Second Sun, adding vocals by Jan Johnston, St. Etienne, and (for the first time) the artist himself, or even recruiting the talent of Germany's biggest hip hop star, DJ Tomekk.

The album starts off with the strong track, "Crush," that bears van Dyk's epic style. But where other DJs would come off as pretentious, only van Dyk could pull a listener in with the self-confident one liner, "I know you want me." The life perspective vocals and co-production efforts with Vega-4 pay off with "Time of Our Lives," the second single released from Reflections. The album's high energy flow is interrupted when Jan Johnston's spirited vocals lack to connect with van Dyk's instrumental style for the first time in "Like a Friend." This initial shortcoming proves to become a recurring problem for the album. The pace picks up using one of van Dyk's distinctive bouncing melodies and avoiding mistakes found in other dance anthems for the progressive trance title track, "Reflections." Released earlier this year, the multi-layered instrumentals and ethereal vocals of "Nothing but You" entwine into a lush track that is still leveling dance floors. Samples of bird songs add to the mellow simplicity of "Buenaventura." The album's low point is found in the 80s style vocals of "Homage" that overpower any promise of the track's instrumentals. Blending a rolling 130 bpm with just a bit of funk in "Never Forget" suggests a possible influence by the Smiths, a van Dyk favorite. "Knowledge" is an awesome track that busts out scratch samples, driving vocals and a ton of energy, putting a new dark twist on van Dyk's personality. The artist's first attempt at vocals only adds to the monotonous pitch of "That's Life" which falls short in creating another rolling, laid back track. Multiple layers in "Connected" create this track's lush sound that indicates potential to become a classic van Dyk single. Unlike previous albums with vocals by St. Etienne, Jan Johnston's vocals lack creativity and fail to blend with the album's style again in "Spellbound." Fortunately, Johnston's vocals and van Dyk's instrumentals find common ground in "Kaleidoscope," a promising, upbeat closing track.

Since his first release, Paul van Dyk's innovative talent has set the standard for dance music world wide. By overcoming low points and adding new facets to his classic style, Paul van Dyk has successfully tested his own limits and increased his own potential as artist. By surpassing expectations, Reflections has yet again set in motion the future of dance music.


Paul van Dyk - Reflections

Track Listing:

  1. Crush
  2. Time of Our Lives
  3. Like a Friend
  4. Reflections
  5. Nothing But You
  6. Buenaventura
  7. Homage
  8. Never Forget
  9. Knowledge
  10. That's Life
  11. Connected
  12. Spellbound
  13. Kaleidoscope

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