His weekly radio show, State of Trance, has become a sort of oracle of the latest and greatest trends in dance and club culture. This double CD compilation is the natural outgrowth of his show and is thus a reliable bellwether of the prevailing mood in the thriving European dance scene.
Van Buuren begins his selection for the first CD with "Tranquility", an intricate, ephemeral track by a fellow Hollander Mark Otten. With this elusive, slightly unnerving choice Van Buuren clearly announces his intention to steer well clear of traditional dance floor cheese. The mix that follows represents some of the finest progressive trance to come out of Europe in years. Highlights include rising star Phynn's hypnotic remix of "Escape" - a compulsively danceable track that has wormed it's way into playlists on both sides of the Atlantic. Another great track is the beautifully constructed "Burned with Desire" - Van Buuren's only contribution to the compilation. The vocals of long-time collaborator Justine Suissa flow through the track like cool, crystal clear water.
The second CD compilation kicks off with "Kubik" - dark and beautifully layered track by Perry O'Neil, another of Van Buuren's promising young acolytes. Its understated intensity and eerie tone set the mood for the rest of the mix.
Harder edged than the first disk, the second half of the compilation is definitely more dancefloor friendly. One of the strongest tracks is the diamond edged "Naked Angel" - a fortuitous collaboration between Gatecrasher luminary Scott Bond and Birmingham duo Solar Stone. The irresistible kenetic sweep of Mono's "Rise" promises great things to come from Swedish wunderkind Jezper Soderlund.
With all compilations, dance music or otherwise, success rests on two factors: the choice of music and the quality of the production. As usual Van Buuren pulls out only top draw material, but it is his technical expertise that really sets the mix apart. After the disappointment of his debut album "76", it's good to see Van Buuren back at what he does best.
A State of Trance is not as easily accessible as most other commercial dance offerings. Light on vocals and heavy on dark and intricate progression - this is deep, intense, brow furrowing trance - not happy party music. The CDs will probably work best for long car journeys, or for background music while preparing for a night out. That said, devoted trance fans will find a lot more depth to explore here than in other crassly commercial offerings.
WHAT OTHER REVIEWERS SAIDIf you're looking for a compilation of hard, driving, big-room dance-floor-filling trance, you need to look (or listen) somewhere else. One must appreciate this compilation for its musical merits as representing this particular style of trance well.- Tony Davis, About.com"Van Buuren clearly has a vision for what he wants "trance" to be, and he does a pretty good job of balancing it with what most people who buy this album are going to be expecting."- John Bergstrom, Popmatters"While there's nothing groundbreaking here by any means, Van Buuren's approach makes for perfect sunny day music before nightfall brings out the heavier, more sinister spinners."- Matthew Cooke, Amazon.com- Alistair Fairweather
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