Brain-hammeringly successful and able to unit-shift as if it’s the end of capitalism, Paul Van Dyk has effortlessly competed over the past 10 years with Sasha, Digweed, Pete Tong and Paul Oakenfold for sheer international meta-brand pure-trance popularity. But at a price — Dyk’s talents have bullied themselves into a parallel creative stasis, unable to make a record since 2000’s Out There And Back, distracted with intimately copulating with the rise and fall of a scene until he appears to have nothing left inside of him but a couple of stop-gap mix albums and this, Global, a greatest hits collection.
There was a reason for the rise to big-table fame, which might be easy to overlook as trance suffers from an airlock-sucking loss of relevance. And there was unquestionable almost-greatness along the way. Mixed as a breakless live set and coupled with an expensively made 5.1 DVD of club/travelogue film and promo footage, all of Dyk’s best work is here: “We Are Alive,” “Forbidden Fruit,” “Tell Me Why,” “For An Angel,” and one of two new tracks, taken from the Mexican film Zurdo, which is System F on the autobahn with a bulimic African model snatched after seven hours of party-staring. These tracks are as galactically lovely as ever, hard-twinkling in the ground zero that was house cliché and oblivion-waged after-hours euphoria and some of the most uplift-sobered material ever made by a late ’90s commercial trance producer.
What’s fundamentally off about the package is its enthusiastic picket-line cross from enjoyable celebration of mass-dance appeal to uncomfortable historical propaganda. The booklet and the bonus DVD have little to say about Dyk’s career other than scene-anachronistic status manipulation. Planet-trotting DJ slots sit next to Riefenstahlish footage of bazzed-out chemical crowd abandon. Image-applause is edited within helium-O.M.D. filler tracks and photographs of luxury cars — tactics which, considering Dyk’s relative obscurity on the non-dance radar, come across as throbbingly insecure, an entertainment-crushing attempt to sell the idea of cultural importance without demonstrating anything that’s inherently or culturally important.
While a multimedia misfire, Dyk’s appeal is explained despite the surrounding shit. Shut down the visuals and Global does an enjoyably sonic job to show just how little the music has evolved over a decade and how it doesn’t seem to matter. Dyk’s grin-free production style holds up well, more than most; refreshingly challenge-less, always the same, it works its way inside trademark synth-riffs and sprays of silver with incredible, almost artificial, reliability, rarely aspiring for more than basics-filled 4/4 elation and touched with enough lushness to thrill the trance-smash glitterati who’ve been losing control of their own sub-culture with every passing product cycle.
But any more of this and he’s fucked.