MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

A Year With Armin Van Buuren

Armada Music (2012)

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.

3.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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