Who is Armin Van Buuren?
When it comes to trance music, there is no denying the power or influence that Armin Van Buuren has had on the community or the immense popularity that he has garnered over the years, elevating him to one of the top DJs and producers in the world. Buuren has inspired many, not only with his electric live sets, but also with his original releases like Imagine and his weekly radio show aptly titled A State of Trance which reaches millions around the world. It is this show that has inspired a series of award-winning compilation CDs that have introduced Armin's special selection of exclusive unreleased tracks, new remixes, and mash-ups that all qualified with the signature ASOT sound. It is no surprise, then, that Armin Van Buuren is releasing the sixth edition of the A State of Trance for 2009.
Two Volumes Bring A State of Trance
The 2009 installment of this series stays almost true to the Dutch trance superstar's penchant for high-flying melodies and driving, linear rhythms with the first CD in the two-disc set being titled On the Beach which contains 14 tracks, while the 15-track second disc is labeled In the Club. The first CD set is actually the better of the two sets with very few flaws to pick at. It begins with the John O'Callaghan track "Never Fade Away," with its smooth relaxed beats and intoxicating vocals, and maintains this steady mood and pace through out the set. The track "Deep Down" by Winter Kills is another amazing tune due to entrancing vocals set against erotic beats that transforms into a lush but edgy atmospheric sound that elevates the set to another level. Other noteworthy tracks are "Nothing at All" which showcases more beautiful vocals entwined with more aggressive beats, while "Man on the Run" has some potential as well with its cascading buildups and lush vocals. Overall, the first CD is a nice exercise in trance music that is more subdued and relaxed which definitely fits the title of the first set. On the Beach is an enjoyable listen that definitely inspires and provides a lush musical experience that will calm the soul and ease mind while casually having fun at the beach or at home.
In the Club - Not As Hard As Expected
The second CD, which is titled In the Club, contains more dance-friendly tracks that dabble more into progressive and house trance music than the harder trance we have come to enjoy from Armin during his career. It is here, though, that he seems to falter some in the choices of songs and relatively lackluster mixing due to misplaced beats and breaks which sometimes provides uninspiring buildups that make it somewhat inconsistent. John O'Callaghan shows up again on the opening track, with Sarah Howells providing the vocals to “Find Yourself” which is another great effort by him and inspires the listener on their musical journey. Another positive track is "Inside of You," with an amazing cosmic buildup that generates plenty of energy on its own. After the first two tracks though, the listener is subjected to several non-vocal tracks that are less than inspiring and that destroy the overall mood of the set. The vocals of Audrey Gallagher save the set midway through, though, on the uplifting track "Freefalling" while "Sunset Boulevard" by Alex M.O.R.P.H. amps the energy and intensity that definitely generates a desire for the dance floor. Other noteworthy tunes are "Look Ahead" by Neptune Project and "Come to Me" by Phuter Sound featuring the beautiful vocals of Angie which help to overcome the disappointment of the ending tracks.
Considering the consistency of the first CD, this second CD set seems
disjointed and uneven and fails to deliver the same musical experience
that we would come to expect from Armin van Buuren. While some tracks
work fairly well, others fail to live up to their potential and become
anything but memorable.
Overall, A State of Trance 2009 is somewhat of a disappointment and
definitely would be considered the weakest release in the A State of
Trance series. While the first CD, labeled On the Beach, was
definitely an inspiring listen and stayed true to its theme, In the
Club was chaotic and seemed lackluster at times in its mixing
production and certain song choices seem to hinder those tracks that
really did shine. If you were eagerly awaiting this release after the
amazing 2008 version of this series, then you might be disappointed,
even though I will admit that the first CD of the compilation is worth
the purchase of this release. If you are looking for a really great
trance experience with few flaws, then you might be better off getting
the 2008 release if you don’t already own it, or wait later this
summer for the eagerly awaited release of Tiesto's new album.
Released May 2009 on Armada Music.