Fans won't complain, but those unswayed will surely remain so.
Chris Power 2009-05-22
Few artists embody the superclub era better than German DJ and producer Paul van Dyk. From his own E-Werk club in Berlin to Cream, Gatecrasher in its late 90s heyday and the pleasure palaces of Ibiza, if there was a forest of hands and glowsticks in the air in the late 1990s it was a fair bet that he or one of his records was on the decks. Whether the sugar rush pleasures afforded by commercial trance are substantial enough to justify a three-disc best of is a riskier proposition, and on the evidence of this album the answer is 'no'.
Van Dyk might be a fondly remembered throwback for those who have long since mothballed their day-glo clubwear, but in fact he’s never been away. He was even voted best DJ in the world in the DJ Magazine's influential annual poll as recently as 2005. His five studio albums are all represented here, with the majority of tracks coming from the most successful of them, 1996's Seven Ways and 2000's Out There And Back.
Disc one, featuring van Dyk's own productions, is presented as a mix, which means you don't have to sit through minutes of DJ-friendly unadorned kick drum intros and outros, but also draws attention to the monotonous uniformity of his sound. Make no mistake, this is a proper sausage factory of a mix: one banger after another. Of those bangers, however, a couple stand out from the crowd. The PvD 09 remix of For An Angel might be boilerplate trance but 1998’s E-Werk Mix has a naive charm, while Tell Me Why (The Riddle) benefits from the cool dispassion of Sarah Cracknell's vocal.
The two discs of remixes feature big names from rock and pop as well as the dance scene, but while the voice of Justin Timberlake or Bono might differentiate these tracks, Van Dyk's musical bedding tends to remain the same: echoing bass stabs, arpeggiated synth lines and a throbbing 303. Best of the lot is 1998's Love Mix of Humate's early trance classic Love Stimulation, but that's chiefly due to the strength of the original. Fans won't complain, but those unswayed will surely remain so.