Paul van Dyk

Evolution

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The ravenous fans might disagree -- suggesting that the details that signify significant growth are abundant -- but Paul van Dyk's 2012 effort could be called Quintessential for everyone else's benefit. Besides the bigger booms and the wider, wide-angle productions, Evolution sounds quite like his 1994 debut 45 RPM, just with many more vocal cuts. One of these, the blissful "Eternity" with Owl City's Adam Young, gives this one its "For an Angel," acting as the album's key track and granting the second van Dyk generation their prime-time trance number. Elsewhere, a swing beat makes "All the Way" undeniable to hips and head-bobbers, while "Lost in Berlin" bleeps along with a proper nod to that city's techno, and capping it all off is the closing "Heart Stops Beating," which brings stuttering vocals, beats that drop, and van Dyk's love of mixing bright (up-front synths) and deep (heavy bass drum). Think "winning formula" instead of "formulaic" and you're close to the value of Evolution, which along with Ferry Corsten's equally great WKND makes "trance ain't dead" the unofficial motto of 2012.

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