REVIEW: Derek van Beever - "Lodestar"

By Chris Eissing

Chain Border

LodestarDerek van Beever's work Lodestar is where the bland, played-out repetitive world of dance and techno grows some legs. It is an evolution. Using smart mixes of heavy western rock and funk rhythms, eastern arrangements, smooth jazz tonations… Hell, you name it, and you can find it in here. From thick trance atmospheres to funk porn-esque.

This is an altogether sweet sound. Lodestar bridges a lot of styles and deftly melds them together. Able to put a lounge sound as a back drop to smooth jazz trumpets playing against a synth that gets to sound like a synth. Add to this smart arrangements that allows songs like Big Love to go from heavy acid dance-house funk to sweet docile lounge melodies wailing out a trumpet in a lonely room.

The album is front-loaded with the heavy beats. Starting with Uneven, a heavy dance beat with fat bass that never forgets its jazz roots, the album moves further and further away from concrete sounds as it progresses. The dance beats, for lack of a better term, are very reminiscent of the 2-3 listenable tracks Tricky creates, or pre-car commercial Moby. But without vocals.

As we get deeper into the tracks we move further away from traditional rhythms and more into trance and experimental sounds. These are strong hypnotic sounds. The album's progression away from structure rounds out with the final track, Tell Me Something Good. In this, the progression is rather complete as Derek van Beever gives Philip Glass a run for his money by using long intoned notes and melodies that take 3 minutes to complete.

Lodestar's best works are when Derek van Beever uses all of his different influences and talents and weaves them into a strong rhythmic fabric. The jazz/dance/electronica vibe he creates in the first 1/3 of the album is its strength. His more ethereal works still have the hint of jazz, like a slight scent. They are strong, but they pale to his more complex pieces. For as much as these are strong pieces, they don't compare with the opening tracks of the album. As each track draws out closer to the end you keep wondering if he's going to bring back the funk and rhythm to close it all out. Heavy trance fans might argue that the first few tracks delay them getting all jiggy with the meditative.

Lodestar plays like a-hi profile soundtrack to the Saturday evening you wish you had even including the wind-down. One wonders what Derek could create with a vocalist, or better yet, vocalists,that could push styles as he does. Lodestar stands out as some of the best music you can find to get excited to, and also to crash to.

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Legends Online