Following Swedish House Mafia’s This Is Spinal Tap-esque documentary Take One, Dutchman Armin Van Buuren is the latest superstar DJ to allow cameras into his private life with the release of his behind-the-scenes film, A Year With Armin Van Buuren.
Unlike the relentless hedonism and debauchery of the Swedes’ cinematic outing, Van Buuren’s 60-minute feature presents its star as a likeable and unassuming family man who just happens to play records to hundreds of thousands of clubbers every year.
The film’s official soundtrack is also in keeping with Van Buuren’s understated persona. Largely consisting of remixes and extended version of tracks from his last studio album, 2010’s Mirage, there are of course several massive hands-in-the-air anthems. But apart from the remixes of “Full Focus” and “Drowning” from Chris Schweizer and Avicii respectively, they avoid descending into the kind of lowest common denominator fare favoured by many of his chart-dominating peers.
“Tuvan,” Van Buuren’s second collaboration with Benno de Goeij under the guise of Gaia, echoes the sophisticated neo-classical trance of William Orbit’s post-Madonna work, likewise the sprawling “Mirage,” which comes complete with a Led Zeppelin-inspired symphonic rock breakdown.
The vocal numbers are equally stylish. Winter Kills’ Meredith Call occupies a similar role to Sarah McLachlan on Delirium’s “Silence” on the ethereal “Take A Moment.” Nadia Ali, the voice behind iiO’s club classic “Rapture,” wraps her sultry sensual tones around some The xx-esque echo-laden riffs and slinky Europop beats on “Feels So Good.” And “In And Out Of Love” sees Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel abandon her usual gothic-rock on a gorgeous slice of melancholic trance-pop.
There’s little here to tempt those who already own Mirage, with its array of remixes more at the perfunctory end of the scale than the essential. But as a showcase of his talents, A Year With Armin Van Buuren more than justifies his King of Trance status.