Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Evolution (Paul Van Dyk, 2012) -- C+

The problem with most EDM artist albums is that they are, inevitably, too damn long. Clocking in at 77 minutes, Paul Van Dyke's (PvD) Evolution isn't so much a Darwinian exercise for the international mainstay as it is a degeneration into various attempts to stay relevant, especially on a Dubstep(?) track like "Rock This" that sounds fine (like standard issue Dubstep, that is), which becomes precisely the problem with much of PvD's latest - unfocused, wavering, screeching, hokey vocals abounding, it's the product of an artist trying to satisfy newcomers rather than honing in on what he has built himself on. Staying true to origins doesn't necessarily exclude "evolution"; in fact, the album's title would be apropos were PvD going Trance heavy, rather than offering a potpourri of the EDM realm. Not surprisingly, the best tracks come from his collaboration with Above & Beyond crony Arty, whose youth (he's 21) and blossoming popularity (along the equally talented Mat ZO) shows that there remains a large chunk of the EDM apple that aren't simply bandwagon, Skrillex/Guetta drones. "The Ocean" epitomizes what PvD should be after with his self-ascribed evolution - regaining the sounds and emotive chords that appeal so strongly to Trance enthusiasts - simultaneously bittersweet and hopeful - the intruding piano before the bass line drops a juxtaposition of past and future, making the track's ethos wholly "present," speaking through its metered integration of affective stop-and-start progressions. Following it up with "Eternity," on which vocalist Adam Young screeches "I know you'll be waiting when the moon beams come down and kiss me," PvD's latest is a mess of beauty, muck, and, above all, misplaced convictions.

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