x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Armin Van Buuren: Imagine

Places his mainstream brand of vocal trance in familiar territory, with a heavy reliance on mystical female vocalists singing about nothing in particular in strange accents.

"Not an entirely unpleasant experience"... <i>Imagine</i>.
"Not an entirely unpleasant experience"... <i>Imagine</i>.

To the uninitiated, Armin Van Buuren may just sound like any other Dutch guy. But to his hordes of sweating fans, he is the man behind some of the best trance grooves of the last decade. His career as a DJ and producer has seen him reach the top of the polls in DJ magazine's Top 100 for the last two years and his world-famous sets pack clubs and festivals across the globe. Four studio albums down and Imagine places his mainstream brand of vocal trance in familiar territory, with a heavy reliance on slow-builders and mystical female vocalists singing about nothing in particular in strange accents. The opening title track is a foray into instrumental territory, with relatively pleasing results, but we are soon back with the pounding, piano-backed beats that make trance one of the most ubiquitous varieties of club music - as at home on the car radio as the dance floor. In fact, nothing seems to have changed since Robert Miles's Children and the days when Paul Oakenfold reigned supreme, except now it all comes with wistful lyrics that you can sing along to. There may be little of substance here, but an hour with van Buuren isn't an entirely unpleasant experience, and will definitely get you further on the treadmill than Coldplay.

kboucher@thenational.ae