OK, OK...first things first. While some dour, pessimistic, and hopelessly tragic people out there may have declared the popularity of trance as its death knell--with all the trashy, same-y comps littering the record store shelves this summer with last years' ibiza holdovers and 'updated' remixes of four year old songs--you MAY be inclined to believe it. BUT I BEG YOU, DON'T DESPAIR...
Out There And Back is truly the trance record that Paul Van Dyk had to make, and one not only the trance, but the dance community across the globe, will thank him for. While some DJ/producers batter the same themes over and over until they decide to run it into the ground only to annoy us with their 'new', 'different' direction (BT are you listening?), PVD improves on his entire back catelog and makes music that is truly progressive on the dancefloor and off.
'Vega' is a welcome starter, echoing Paul's fantastic new-ish fascination with breakbeats as a set-starter ala his oft-included Starecase track 'First-Floor Deadlock'. The beats on this track are a perfect intro; a welcome change from most albums' tendency to begin with some murky synth nonsense. From then on in, Out There and Back starts like an album should...it progresses like a live set, not a collection of singles. Songs like 'Pikes' contain so many hooks and such crafted care that you swear it truly isn't possible for dance music to do all this. Perhaps the nicest treat is the fact that PVD newly remixed his three previosuly released singles, 'Another Way', 'Avenue', and "Tell Me Why (The Riddle)' espescially for the LP. These new versions mean that those who previously bought the singles get new versions of all tracks, all blended together in a seamless triple threat of power and grace. From there on in, get ready for the true PVD experience as he unleashes the prime time, soon-to-be anthems, four-on-the-floorfillers that anyone who has witnessed Paul live will truly enjoy and want to repeat ASAP. 'The Love From Above' and 'Columbia' are just amazing, pure and simple. Honed and headed straight for your solar plexus, these tunes just demonstrate that you don't always need chemicals or even a club to appreciate the creme de la creme of dance music. And as if that wasn't enough, the album ends with 'Alive', a song PVD has been playing on his US/UK tour lately and sounds like an anthem you've heard a thousand times while still seeming like it came from a daydream from 3012. The vocal and the hook summarize the-heart-in-your-throat beauty and power that PVD closes his sets with. It couldn't end any better than this.
This album is a mandate for the dance community. It pulls no punches, yet it doesn't pretend to be something obscure or different due to the tastemakers' disdain for current popular trends. Instead, it just makes plain that Paul Van Dyk is working at the peak of his powers and that is something we can be thankful for from the dancefloor to the freeways, out there and back.