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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » Van Buuren, Armin - 2003 76
Van Buuren, Armin - 2003 76

Armin Van Buuren - keyboards, all programming

Ray Wilson - vocals
Victoria Horn - vocals
Eller Van Buuren - guitars
Jacqueline Govaert - vocals
Annelies Huusters - vocals
Justine Suissa - vocals

Something a little bit different. Bringing us into the modern age is Dutch keyboard/programming wizard Armin Van Buuren. A unique talent, who manages to meld new age styles, melodic rock, and melodic trance into a compelling blend of music that is sure to get keyboard enthusiasts happy. I happened to hit upon this guys music early in the new year purely by accident, and was interested enough to search out this recent album from last year, called '76' (as in the CD track-time). Armin is better known in the melodic trance/dance scene, but to hear his music is more than just a foray into that arena. His compositions are extremely technical, well arranged, and though not as fluffy as his Dutch counterpart Robby Valentine, there are enough moments of interest, particularly if you are a fan of hi-tech AOR, or even progressive styles a la Saga, Deep Forest and Enigma.

The Songs
Ray Wilson better known as the recent voice behind prog legends Genesis, appears on one of the albums best known tracks 'Yet Another Day'. The keyboard work on this one is astounding! Armin should be commended for giving the track some space for guitars.. a great compliment, especially since he is a predominant keyboard guy! Equally interesting is 'Wait For You', featuring the dulcet tones of Victoria Horn drifting across the soundscape amid some insistent analog synthesizer passages and ambient layers. Even the punchy 'Stay' takes us on a melodic journey where twin female vocals waft through, similar to a dance-flavoured version of Roxette. Justine Suissa's appearance on the dreamlike 'Never Wanted This' drives this track deeper into ambient territory, though anyone with an inkling of melodic music will appreciate it for what it is.. superb. For my ears, Justine's voice carries a similar style to Karnataka's Rachel Jones. There, how's that for a comparison? Picking up the pace, we venture into an upbeat version of 'Blue Fear', which is the Alan Parsons Project revisited, circa the 'I-Robot/'Pyramid' era. Sure it has a dance flavour, but the music is essentially more melodic than you'll hear from bands that are passing for melodic rock these days!! I prefer to call it 'crossover'. The same goes for the awesome instrumental 'Precious', which has the feet tapping big-time, with huge analog sweeps and hard-driving percussive beats keeping the metronome ticking over.

In Summary
Some might find it strange that a review of an album by a guy who is essentially a DJ finds its way to Glory-Daze. Sure, there are detractors of the trance scene, as there are those who slag the AOR and HM scenes - but this is so damn melodic. The underlying theme with this review is melodic, and though Armin is not doing anything new with his brand of 'out of the box' software driven synth music, it's his musical ideas and expressions that set him apart from the pack. If I can give you one other word of advice.. play this CD on a high quality stereo to really appreciate the OTT production. Also, I reckon you get a real bang for the buck as the CD is over 75 minutes long, but you already knew that didn't you? (hence the album title). Investigate at your caution.

Track Time: 75.51

Track Listing:
01 Prodemium
02 Precious
03 Yet Another Day
04 Burned With Desire
05 Blue Fear (2003)
06 From The Heart
07 Never Wanted This
08 Astronauts
09 Stay
10 Wait For You
11 Sunburn
12 Communication
13 Slipstream

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