Armin Van Buuren

Armin Van Buuren

Armin Van Buuren

Shivers

Ultra

Were it not for Dutch boys like Tiesto, Ferry Corsten and Armin Van Buuren, trance music’s high-energy aspirations might’ve been squelched years ago. Each DJ has achieved chart-topping success in his own right, while constantly proving naysayers wrong.

But the question remains: just how much hyper-speed snare buildups, bone-rattling, chopping-block kicks and string-soaked dance floor melodrama can we take? Unfortunately, Armin Van Buuren doesn’t provide any resounding answers with Shivers, his proper full-length debut.

As a DJ, he’s been fully adept at keeping clubgoers under his spell on the dance floor, but Van Buuren’s magic doesn’t carry over into the realm of original productions. For a supposedly ambitious effort that spanned two years of recording in a host of locales — including San Fran and Amsterdam — Shivers‘ end results surely don’t translate.

The opening “Wall of Sound,” with its wispy female coos, synth waves and standard breakbeats, isn’t anything we haven’t heard from Paul Van Dyk three times over. With the following “Empty State,” Van Buuren quickly returns to gobbed-up trance form, but Mic Burns’s lovelorn vocals only feel empty in the end. Van Buuren’s efforts aren’t all for naught, though. He invites dance darlings Gabriel & Dresden to guide him along on “Zocalo,” one of the more interesting offerings with Morriccone-esque guitar lines that clash nicely with Buuren’s pretty dance. And Genesis hack Ray Wilson redeems himself on “Gypsy,” crooning and keeping pace with his producer’s dark, deep breakbeats.

But it’s still not enough. Van Buuren’s lofty ambitions aren’t met halfway by the music, which is rarely innovating and often irritating. Maybe I’m just jaded by the whole trance-DJ-cum-artist act. Because for my bottom dollar, Van Dyk had this whole career turn pinned down five years ago and gave me shivers with 2000’s Out There and Back.

Van Buuren unfortunately doesn’t succeed in either.

Armin Van Buuren: www.arminvanbuuren.com

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