Armin van Buuren has dropped his sixth studio album Embrace, a release that will be met with both joy and trepidation from fans of trance’s leading man. Of course, when you’re as big as Armin, there’s an awful lot of expectation on your shoulders when releasing any new music, but both fans and critics alike will be pleased to hear Armin has struck a pleasing chord once again.
Long-time fans will be pleased to hear the uplifting and epic side of Armin is still out in full force, and in a scene where so many evolve and shift their production style over the years, there’s still something distinctly “Armin” about everything the guy cooks up in the studio. That doesn’t mean he’s stuck in his ways–indeed, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as while there’s a healthy dose of classic trance in tracks such as the Balearic-tinged Face Of Summer or the Cosmic Gate collaboration Embargo, there’s also some very interesting experimentation at play.
Heading Up High features the talents of Dutch rock band Kensington, and combines stadium rock vibes with uplifting trance riffs. It sounds odd on paper, and it’s a recipe that others have tried and failed to cook up in the past, yet Armin nails it, providing perhaps one of the highlights of the whole album. Elsewhere, title track Embrace features an appearance from Dutch jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, another pairing that seems almost bizarre at first glance but again Armin manages to get the balance just right. There’s also a stunning ballad from Gavin DeGraw, who closes out the album with his vocal on Looking For Your Name, a track that virtually has no elements of electronic music in it.
Of course, there’s a fair helping of Armin’s more mainstream side at play, with this summer’s festival favorite Another You taking pride of place as the second track on the album, and Hardwell collaboration Off The Hook in the penultimate position, providing a pounding final climax. Overall, Embrace is a fair balance of the various facets of Armin’s work, and makes good use of his various connections and friendships within both dance music and the wider music scene in a way that doesn’t seem either showy or lazy. Most importantly though, it shows that he’s still right at the forefront of what electronic music has to offer, and he’s sure to remain there for a long time to come. That’s what happens when you work with and respect good songwriters. Beats are fleeting–songs are forever.
Grab your copy of Embrace here.