Love him or hate him, Tiesto is at the pinnacle of his industry. Born Tijs Verwest, the 35-year-old Hollander is one of the best selling and most beloved dance music producers. He has also been voted the number 1 DJ for two years running by DJ Magazine, the dance scene's de facto bible and his latest release, "Just Be", will only cement this reputation further.The last few years have hailed a strong resurgence in Dutch trance, and it's easy to see why. Untroubled by showy, self indulgent fads like the "progressive" flavour that has tainted much of dance's mainstream culture, Tiesto and his compatriots have been turning out (some might say churning out) the same lucid, solid, beautifully produced tracks that originally made them famous. Not to say that Tiesto's music hasn't grown - on the contrary some of the tracks on this album are positively experimental. But he is, like any good DJ, always aware of what will work in the club; what will please the crowd.The album opens, uncharacteristically, with a haunting passage of strings that slowly builds into the driving beats and hissing high-hats of "Forever Today". From the start Tiesto seems to be signalling that his first self produced album will be just that: an album, not a randomly sequenced collection of "cool" tracks. Whether he succeeds in this ambition is debatable.
There are some real highpoints - the deliciously overwrought mayhem of "Traffic"; the beautiful, soothing purity of "Nyana" and the pulsating, off-centre eeriness of "Adagio For Strings". But there are some equally low points - the pedestrian ploddings of "Sweet Misery" and the overwrought noodling of "A Tear in the Open" both betray Tiesto's ambitions to evolve out of his comfort zone, but neither of them fit the album. The Radiohead-esqe "UR" is equally out of place here, but the result is too hauntingly beautiful to call a failure.Above all else you have to admire Tiesto for his mastery of his craft. Even his questionable tracks are flawlessly produced, with all the hallmarks of the buckets of love and sweat he pours into his work. We shouldn't hold his evolutionary ambitions against him - like any true artist he clearly feels a need to change and grow. If the dance community have to put up with a few less than perfect offerings while Tiesto evolves, that is a small price to pay for the rest of his brilliance.- Alistair Fairweather
WHAT OTHER CRITICS THOUGHT:"...a more concentrated trance session aimed at those expecting to hear a replica of his live DJ set."- Lewis Dene, BBC Music"...another energetic collection of crowd pleasers that are undeniably infectious, but equally unoriginal."- Genevieve Powers, Rolling Stone"Though offering ready-to-remix parts, the whole of Just Be is too impatient to sound deep and forgets to let the peaks come naturally."- Matthew Cooke, Amazon.com
The world's number one DJ is not entirely on target with his first entirely self-produced album, but several excellent tracks make up for the evolutionary hiccups.
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