Scratching the Surface

Armin Van Buuren

In recent years, trance has been riddled with cheesy predictable vocals, endless drum rolls and buildups -- not to mention an overall painful lack of originality. Holland's Armin Van Buuren (due Thursday, September 30, at the Church) started playing trance before it became a dirty word, when it was primarily the domain of Paul Oakenfold and Sasha and Digweed, before the cheese took over. To Van Buuren, trance is any musical element that can conjure emotion, from progressive house to straight-up techno. He's best known for a track he produced called "Blue Fear," which is widely credited with helping establish the style as a dominant force in electronic music. And with the release of his debut full-length, 76, he's poised to reclaim its credibility in the worldwide scene. The disc received a 2004 Dancestar Award nomination (the dance-music equivalent of a Grammy nod), and Van Buuren's record label, Armada, which he established in 2002, has seen a string of critically acclaimed releases. Fall under the spell.

 
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