Paul van Dyk

In Between: Mixed Album

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In Between, Paul van Dyk's first studio album in four years, and only his second in seven, was certainly a long time coming. In fact, it was questionable whether another studio album would come at all. A lot changed over that span of time in terms of musical trends -- the rise (and descent) of Microhouse, for instance -- but thankfully van Dyk sticks with what he does best on In Between rather than experiment with an assortment of styles like he did on his previous album, Reflections (2003). Like his earlier albums -- 45 RPM (1994), Seven Ways (1996), and Out There and Back (2000) -- this one is a seamless trance excursion, with each track segueing into the next, sometimes so subtly one must rely on the track numbers to distinguish the songs from one another. However, the trance sound of In Between is far removed from that of van Dyk's earlier work. It's a much more nuanced, multi-layered sound that is practically soothing relative to the exhilarating ups and downs of Seven Ways, to look back a decade for a point of comparison. Part of what makes In Between such a soothing listen is vocalist/songwriter Ashley Tomberlin, who is credited on three songs, and the other, primarily female vocalists who pop up every now and then over the course of the album. These pretty and generally soft voices bring some life to music that is otherwise drifting and casual, driven by a steady beat that never hits too hard. The highlights of this long, 17-track album generally arrive early, beginning with "Haunted" (featuring Lo-Fi Sugar) and "White Lies" (featuring one of the Pussycat Dolls, Jessica Sutta). The latter of these two songs is clearly the album's crossover single, and while it's catchy and memorable, it might well be too dumbed-down for its own good (not to mention for the good of the album). While these are the initial highlights, intended to draw in listeners with short attention spans, the run of songs that begins with "Complicated"/"Get Back" (both featuring Tomberlin) and peaks with "Another Sunday" (which -- keeping with the vocal emphasis -- features a memorable sample) is more satisfying and arguably the heart of the album. There are many tracks that follow, of course, including the forceful "New York City" (featuring no less than five songwriters, three producers, and four vocalists -- at least according to the credits), but as the album meanders from point to point, never departing too far from its home base in terms of sounds or beats, it's easy to lose focus and let the music recede into the background. It's clear In Between is no return to form for van Dyk, as there's evidently no returning to the heady days of the late-'90s trance boom. Still, it's good to hear the veteran DJ/producer back in the studio after all these years, even if he is assisted by a long list of up-and-coming co-writers, co-producers, and vocalists who no doubt give the album much of its character and sense of purpose.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
feat: Lo-Fi Sugar
05:40 SpotifyAmazon
2 04:36 SpotifyAmazon
3 03:41 Spotify
4 07:58 SpotifyAmazon
5 05:23 Spotify
6 03:32 SpotifyAmazon
7 06:32 Spotify
8 03:22 SpotifyAmazon
9 04:30 SpotifyAmazon
10 03:23 Spotify
11 04:24 SpotifyAmazon
12 02:20 Spotify
13 05:25 SpotifyAmazon
feat: Lo-Fi Sugar
03:26 SpotifyAmazon
15 02:50 SpotifyAmazon
feat: Rea Garvey
06:17 SpotifyAmazon
feat: David Byrne
04:30 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick