Paul Van Dyk is one of the few trance DJs with a sure touch in the producer's chair as well as the DJ booth. That his productions usually end up bland and disposable like most of the white labels being passed around proves only that the trance scene relies more on the enthusiasm of its audience instead of the quality of its music. Reflections, Van Dyk's first album of new productions in three years, illustrates that his long years of Smiths/New Order fandom left him with a good sense for a sublime hook. While not a pop album by any means, Van Dyk did write songs for Reflections, and collaborated with several artists, all of them obscure and strictly to type (Vega 4 equals Dirty Vegas, Jan Johnston equals Sarah Cracknell). The pleading, artificially textured vocal performance that fronts Vega 4 is calculated and several years behind the times, while a rap production for German-based rapper Trooper da Don doesn't measure up either. Though most of these tracks appear to have been created with car-commercial crossover in mind, "Like a Friend" is worthy of a spin; a sublime melody and an unencumbered backing track proves the perfect setup for Johnston's sincere platitudes about friendship ("Be aware of the world/And be true to your conscience"). Most of the songs here are detached in their attempts at euphoria, always with a strong melody chained to a percussion line that sits back and waits for several minutes to elapse before fading away. Several of them would be strong tracks if Van Dyk slotted them during a DJ date, but in trying to slant Reflections both ways -- as pop crossover and progressive trance -- he fails at both.
AllMusic Review by John Bush
feat: Second Sun