Rather, Balance emblematizes the artistic diligence that has ceaselessly driven the van Buuren project forward since the producer made his debut, 76, in 2003. A producer does not put forth seven incisive studio albums by resting on his laurels, after all, and van Buuren has never been known to do so. The trail of Balance predecessors, Shivers (2005), Imagine (2008), Mirage (2010), Intense (2013), and Embrace (2015) are ample proof of van Buuren’s exhaustive commitment to the electronic craft. Moons Of Jupiter (2019), his longtime collaborative effort, GAIA’s inaugural longform outing, adds good measure.
Balance is four months Moons Of Jupiter’s junior, and, sitting at 28 total tracks, the compilation album is a formidable followup to van Buuren’s June effort alongside GAIA partner, Benno de Goeij. Moons Of Jupiter‘s track list comprises 42 cuts. The sheer expanse of the album would typically warrant a sizable break for van Buuren longer than four months well-deserved, and perhaps even expected. Not so, he says, with the debut of Balance, and to that we say to trance’s tried-and-true trance champion, welcome back.
The dexterity of van Buuren’s production, paired with his acute ear for the radio-driven commercial dance sound that befits the airwaves and the Main Stage alike have never been more apparent before Balance. Neatly packaged along other subgenre canvassing, the Ne-Yo-assisted “Unlove You” and the David Hodges feature, “Waking Up With You” exude van Buuren’s affinity for the larger-than-life dance-pop dominion.
And with the same stroke of his pen, van Buuren effortlessly turns the musical tables with inclusions that scale trance’s stylistic continuum, such as “Don’t Let Me Go,” which situates van Buuren in his beloved progressive trance wheelhouse. He’s comfortable there—of course. But our faithful maestro recognizes the reward in stretching towards the unknown. The delight of Balance is the question that it begs: does van Buuren even have a sonic comfort zone anymore? If he does, it’s nearly impossible to discern along the chromatic length of the LP’s nuanced numbers. From the funky plucks and whistling vocoder of “Sex, Love & Water” to the porcelain piano melodies and synth-line ferocity of “Show Me Love,” van Buuren is proving he trembles at the foot of no aural opportunity.
Balance, as just one singular stream of the album in its entirety will illuminate the veracity of its title—not just in name, but in its design. With its broad assembly of dance styles, anthemic chord progressions, vocal-centric constructions, and ear-catching lyrical concepts and hooks, that, across the studio showing, resonate poignantly or spike listeners’ adrenaline (often both successively), depending on the tune, among other trappings. Balance is proof not only of van Buuren’s creativity, but also of his experimental ardor.
Listeners can catch van Buuren on the North American Balance Tour beginning January 22.
Read Dancing Astronaut’s interview with Armin van Buuren on the release of GAIA’s Moons Of Jupiter album, here.
Photo credit: Bart Heemskerk