The first week of April sees Paul van Dyk – multi-award winning DJ/Producer, internationally renowned EDM envoy and Lufthansa’s favourite person on the planet – plant his next album milestone. The follow-up to ‘In Between’, ‘Evolution’ has been 5 years in the waiting, 10 months in the making and draws on two full decades of musical composition experience. It features collaborations with a full spectrum of producers, singers and lyricists – EDM and otherwise.
“ ‘Evolution’ isn’t about feeding the machine”, says Paul. “I started to record it when I felt the time was right and that was perhaps not the same as when the industry expected it. When I began to work on the album, there was no deadline and no predetermined musical remit. No managers saying, ‘you need to work with this person/that person’. What came, came, and I found using this process exhilarating. Given the method, the fact that ‘Evolution’s jigsaw has all slotted into place so well is the ultimate satisfaction for me.”
As far back as The Visions of Shiva, van Dyk’s belief in the dynamic of the studio collaboration hasn’t wavered. On ‘Evolution’ though he takes this to an entirely new level. Regular PvD watchers will likely already be onside with many of the artists accompanying him on its tracklist. They are performers spotlighted by Paul on a regular basis, either in-club, on his radio show, or both, who all, in their way, bring evolutionary aspects to his sixth studio-based album.
Miami’s Austin Leeds was amongst the first artists from the power-house strata to engage Paul’s imagination. A returnee from ‘In Between’, he reconnects with Paul for another pair of tracks. Putting their studio synergy down to the unique Berlin/Florida, ‘influencing opposites’ chemistry, ‘Evolution’ opener ‘Symmetries’ instantly hooks the listener in with its vibrant, spry appeal. ‘Verano’, their second coproduction meanwhile, ranges wider, lassoing together punch-packing drums, thermal synths and wilder electro-lines – expertly wrangling its elements together.
Those fearing ‘Evolution’ may mean wholesale trance devolution can rest easy. If anything, its collabs will likely engender a collective scene-wide pulse quickening! In tandem with precocious trance-house talent Arty, Paul’s coproduced the expressive melt-away majesty of ‘The Ocean’. So effectively did the duo feel their expansive melodica worked, that they elected to roll the dice again. Taking a different direction, ‘The Sun After The Heartbreak’ calls additionally on voxstress Sue McLaren, placing her affecting story-tell lyrics and vocals over the chilled, rolling piano-shaded breakbeats.
Hot on their heels, Paul effortlessly begins to land one floor detonator after another. Produced alongside Ummet Ozcan, ‘Dae Yor’ is pure speaker thermite, which gates and arpeggiates up with the best of them. Delivering an equally seismic impact is the fat bass shake and whip-quick, fader-flip riffs of Giuseppe Ottaviani’s ‘A Wonderful Day’.
‘Lost In Berlin’ builds straight from its canny, intense-yet-beatless start point, growing relentlessly towards Michelle Leonard’s vocal high – one that holds absolute command over its mind-blowing drop.
Singers like Fieldwork (aka Johnny ‘Home’ McDaid, under his new alias) and Caligola (from Swedish alt-rock outfit Mando Diao) add in that most PvD-pioneered of album components – the mood-packed male vocal. The lyrical introspection of tracks like ‘Everywhere’ and ‘If You Want My Love’ once again brings that key (critical, even) dark, brooding meditation to the album. Contrastingly though, there are also lighter touch moments. Since reaching out to the dance world for the first time, Owl City’s Adam Young has become one of the foremost bridges between the worlds of electronic and non-electronic music. On ‘Eternity’ he teams with Paul for the first time on a track whose blissfully optimistic song-led shift is a Monday morning blues-bashing (and radio-baiting) gift!
Moving further, ‘Rock This’ finds Paul late-night, solo in the studio and in maverick mode. He delivers a track that stylistically covers so much ground, it’s far beyond categorization. Sequence by sequence, it twists and thrills in an impossible-to-anticipate fashion. Put simply: to listen will be to love. That’ll go twice for American songstress Plumb’s contribution too. Super-hot after scoring her first US iTunes #1 with ‘Cut’ last year, she lends the searing vocal range and drama of her voice to ‘I Don’t Deserve You’.
As the album winds its way up towards its conclusion, there is just room for one more titan. The cadence and register of Sarah Howells’ poignant, empathetic ‘Heart Stops Beating’ vocal is projected sky-bound by the huge orchestral hits and summit-climbing synths of Paul’s surrounding production.
Artful when it chooses to be, ballistic when required, van Dyk’s 6th shows that a filler-free artist album isn’t only a possibility, but entirely achievable. 15 astounding new studio creations from Berlin’s favourite son are unveiled – the Evolution has started!
01. Paul van Dyk ‘Symmetries’ feat. Austin Leeds
02. Paul van Dyk ‘The Ocean’ feat. Arty
03. Paul van Dyk ‘Eternity’ feat. Adam Young
04. Paul van Dyk ‘Verano’ feat. Austin Leeds
05. Paul van Dyk ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ feat. Plumb
06. Paul van Dyk ‘The Sun After Heartbreak’ feat. Sue McLaren & Arty
07. Paul van Dyk ‘Rock This’
08. Paul van Dyk ‘Dae Yor’ feat. Ummet Ozcan
09. Paul van Dyk ‘All The Way’ feat. Tyler Michaud & Fisher
10. Paul van Dyk ‘If You Want My Love’ feat. Caligola
11. Paul van Dyk ‘Lost In Berlin’ feat. Michelle Leonard
12. Paul van Dyk ‘Everywhere’ feat. Fieldwork
13. Paul van Dyk ‘A Wonderful Day’ feat. Giuseppe Ottaviani
14. Paul van Dyk ‘We Come Together’ feat. Sue McLaren
15. Paul van Dyk ‘Heart Stops Beating’ feat. Sarah Howells