Germany’s Paul van Dyk has proved to be one of trance music’s most enduring artists, and shows a musical style capable of moving with the times. Whereas previous albums such as Seven Ways and Out There And Back had textures awash with watery sound effects, rippling melodies and warm harmonies, Reflections seeks to gain greater variety by introducing some tracks from the darker side and sitting them directly alongside floor fillers such as the singles Time Of Our Lives and Nothing But You.
Opening track Crush is a low key, introspective start until a strong kick drum bites through the mix, setting things up nicely for theVega 4-fronted Time Of Our Lives. Here there is evidence of van Dyk’s maturing lyrical prowess, for this is a cut above your average dance fodder. It also signals a move towards breakbeat territory, a move fully realised in Knowledge, an aggressive, cutting edge piece of music.
As well as this van Dyk tries his hand at a more down tempo, jazzy style on the reflective Like A Friend, which strays towards Dubstar territory. This is one of several disquieting tracks that seem to have been influenced by a recent life-changing trip to India. Thankfully he doesn’t let this influence go too far, as the title track sees him back on the dance floor doing what he does best.
The dark side is back for Buenaventura, with a bass drum that would rumble the woofers in any club, and a bass line to match. The pumping vocal cut Homage follows, featuring the tones of the seasoned trance diva Jan Johnston, a stalwart of the music of van Dyk’s mate BT.
One of the principal problems with trance music albums in the past has been the lack of musical variety, which has often meant the artist in question has had to resort to trying their hand at a slower brand of music, often with disastrous and cheesy results.
Reflections shows that Paul van Dyk has avoided falling into this trap by some distance -his beat-mongering and songwriting having matured considerably over the last ten years into a cool, polished pop trance sound with a harder edge for the clubs when needed. Add this to the advertising contracts he’s pulling in from mobile phone companies, and the future’s bright…