Paul Van Dyk

If anyone alive could bring legitimacy to the sound of your average nightclub, it's progressive house mainstay Paul Van Dyk. Though the German producer has frequently and publicly repudiated the term, his work helped validate trance music with an accessible pop sensibility that marries ethereal, minor-key melodies with DJ-friendly tempos.

Van Dyk, like most in this field, sometimes falls prey to easy musical clichés. But Reflections shows him sidestepping creative laziness in favor of the most inspired work of his decade-long career. The album's lone descent into cheese, "Crush," comes early on. From there he crafts a few career milestones: jamming convincingly and effortlessly with British rock act Vega 4 ("Time of Our Lives"), laying down a slamming breakbeat track ("Knowledge") and honing his trademark sound ("Nothing But You," "Spellbound") throughout into a form even trance's detractors can respect. Whether it will raise his profile domestically to the pop-star status he enjoys overseas remains to be seen, but Reflections easily proves that the long-running Paul Van Dyk show is far from over.

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Justin Hampton