This week Paul van Dyk released ‘Evolution’, the official follow-up to ‘In Between’. ‘Evolution’ has been five years in the waiting, 10 months in the making and draws on two full decades of musical composition experience. It features collaborations with a full spectrum of producers, singers and lyricists from the world of electronic dance music and otherwise.
Fans of Paul will already be onside with many of the artists accompanying him on its tracklist. They are performers spotlighted by Paul on a regular basis, either in-club, on his radio show, or both, who all, in their way, bring evolutionary aspects to his sixth studio-based album. Miami’s Austin Leeds was amongst the first artists to engage Paul’s imagination. A returnee from ‘In Between’, he reconnects with Paul for another pair of tracks. Putting their studio synergy down to the unique Berlin/Florida, ‘influencing opposites’ chemistry, ‘Evolution’ opener ‘Symmetries’ instantly hooks the listener in with its vibrant, spry appeal. ‘Verano’, their second coproduction meanwhile, ranges wider, lassoing together punch-packing drums, thermal synths and wilder electro-lines - expertly wrangling its elements together.
In tandem with precocious trance-house talent Arty, Paul’s coproduced the expressive ‘The Ocean’ and ‘The Sun After The Heartbreak’, which has vocalist Sue McLaren placing her affecting story-tell lyrics and vocals over the chilled, rolling piano-shaded breakbeats. Next, and produced alongside Ummet Ozcan, ‘Dae Yor’ is pure speaker thermite, which gates and arpeggiates up with the best of them. Delivering an equally seismic impact is the fat bass shake and whip-quick, fader-flip riffs of Giuseppe Ottaviani’s ‘A Wonderful Day’.
‘Lost In Berlin’ builds straight from its canny, intense-yet-beatless start point, growing relentlessly towards Michelle Leonard’s vocal high. Singers like Fieldwork (aka Johnny ‘Home’ McDaid, under his new alias) and Caligola (from Swedish alt-rock outfit Mando Diao) add in that most PvD-pioneered of album components – the mood-packed male vocal. The lyrical introspection of tracks like ‘Everywhere’ and ‘If You Want My Love’ once again brings that key (critical, even) dark, brooding meditation to the album. Contrastingly though, there are also lighter touch moments. Since reaching out to the dance world for the first time, Owl City’s Adam Young has become one of the foremost bridges between the worlds of electronic and non-electronic music. On ‘Eternity’ he teams with Paul for the first time on a track whose blissfully optimistic song-led shift is a Monday morning blues-bashing.
‘Rock This’ finds Paul late-night, solo in the studio and he delivers a track that stylistically covers so much ground, it’s hard to categorize. American songstress, Plumb, super-hot after scoring her first US iTunes #1 with ‘Cut’ last year, lends the searing vocal range and drama of her voice to ‘I Don’t Deserve You’. As the album winds its way up towards its conclusion, there is just room for one more big collab. The cadence and register of Sarah Howells’ poignant, empathetic ‘Heart Stops Beating’ vocal is projected sky-bound by the huge orchestral hits and summit-climbing synths of Paul’s surrounding production.
“‘Evolution’ isn’t about feeding the machine”, says Paul. “I started to record it when I felt the time was right and that was perhaps not the same as when the industry expected it. When I began to work on the album, there was no deadline and no predetermined musical remit. No managers saying, ‘you need to work with this person/that person’. What came, came, and I found using this process exhilarating. Given the method, the fact that ‘Evolution’’s jigsaw has all slotted into place so well is the ultimate satisfaction for me.”
Make sure to check out the video below, as Paul interviews himself for Rolling Stone.