Review Summary: van Buuren takes his extensive knowledge of live trance to craft a masterful album without sacrificing quality.
When I visited the Netherlands this past summer, I had the feeling that I had found a country that was completely aware of their own identity. Everyone was tall, blonde, and really liked to party. Granted, I was only in Amsterdam for a day or so, but it was enough time to take in the culture. And after becoming familiar with Armin van Buuren’s style, I finally understood where his awareness of what makes a great trance track great
came from: his own heritage.
is ripe with seven-minute long dance masterpieces. van Buuren seamlessly integrates his guest vocalists and musicians to create a hypnotic world where objective #1 is to dance and dance some more. It’s easy to picture this album being played in full at van Buuren’s locale of choice: a massive arena or stadium packed with trance enthusiasts. The fact that it sounds so live speaks wonders for his ability to make trance music sound entirely spontaneous and heartfelt. Many artists fail to capture this energy in their electronica tracks due to inexperience in understanding what stadium trance really feels
like. van Buuren, on the other hand, hosts one of the largest trance radio shows in the world. He knows what he’s doing.
On an individual track basis, Imagine
shines in its ability to emphasize the progressiveness of the record. Rather than hastily throwing out the kick loops and bass off the bat, van Buuren builds tension with empty space and cinematic effects. A good example of this is on “Face to Face”, which begins with ethereal sounds and vocals, eventually building up to a light piano melody that drops into the main drum hook a few minutes in. It’s wonderfully executed and indicative of van Buuren’s style; he doesn’t mind losing the casual fan over his tendency to be patient with his music.
Obviously, critics of the genre of trance as a whole will loathe the repetitive nature of individual tracks. But if you don’t mind hearing the same loop for a while, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself listening to this album. There’s no bass drops or clichéd hooks, just simplified dance music at its best.
Recommended tracks: Going Wrong, Hold on to Me