Earlier this month, Paul van Dyk released his long-form music project, ‘Escape Reality’ - a personal project that he’s had in process for some time now. With unexpected events giving its theme higher purpose, he sequestered himself in the studio to complete it. In the meantime though, Paul has placed the dancefloor-centric ‘Guiding Light’ album on ice until the day that clubbing is allowed again.
‘Escape Reality’ has given PvD the opportunity to take a second look at some of his best-known works. Whilst their overarching tone is warmer, slower and more considered (influenced in no small part by studio partner Roger Shah), it’s allowed him to reframe each in a different manner.
Of this turn of release events, Paul commented: “Last month it quickly became apparent that putting out an album designed for the dancefloor (‘Guiding Light’) in a largely club-less world would not be right. So focusing on music-making and a release whose function is now more intimate made a lot of sense.”
Paul likens what subsequently occurred in the studio to an ‘opening of the floodgates.’
“Music became my remedy,” says Paul. “When I got underway, much of the personal apprehension I’d been feeling moved into the background. Impasses that I’d previously reached on certain tracks vanished, new ideas popped and angles appeared. It was a remarkable final production month to something I’d enjoyed playing with for years, and a specific reason to finish it became its tipping point.”
The wide span of production methods he’s used together with Roger to create it also speaks volumes to its longer-than-average passage to release. While ‘Escape Reality’ does contain interpretations that are classically chillout in nature (‘The Ocean’ w/ Arty, ‘For An Angel’ and ‘Guardian’ by way of example), they are in the minority.
Some (like ‘New York’) take the opportunity to play with live instruments or subsets of instrumentation not normally open to club tracks. Others bring different studio techniques and arrangements to their fore - ones far removed from the build and boom dynamic of the dancefloor.
The Tricia McTeague sung ‘Heart Like An Ocean’ benefits from an after-hours-styled treatment, while ‘Only In A Dream’ (also McTeague) has a more break-of-dawn-ish vibe. Through revisions of tracks like ‘Home’, acoustic-led versions assume a significant role too (with their vocal elements becoming even more centre-stage), while Paul rephrases tracks like ‘The Other Side’ in a more cinematic fashion.
A treat will likely be the male vocal version of ‘Music Rescues Me’ featuring the voice of longtime friend Johnny McDaid.
“This project was, to the greatest extent, waiting in the wings,” says Paul. “Reality can be unkind and while this release isn’t a remedy, it might play its part in helping us to clam down, relax, dream and escape reality.”