Tiësto - Kaleidoscope, Album Review




Ultra Records
out October 6th

[Rating Scale]

Album giveaway details at the end of the post



Poor Tiësto. He's got 4.5 continents at his feet, he's headlining DJ gigs in stadiums, he's smashed up the worldwide charts with his trance albums, but there's that glittering jewel of America that's always just out of reach. Springsteen and Bono can fill stadiums in the U.S. Heck, the Oakland Raiders can fill a stadium. But the kids just aren't into trance music here.

Tiësto's closest equivalent is David Beckham. Both have had a fantastic decade, and both are some of the biggest names in their respective fields—fields which the U.S. happens to care very little about.

Mr. Beckham tried to take over America by ditching the prestigious football clubs in Europe and coming stateside to win us over. It didn't really work. Tiësto's going on offense in the U.S. by getting every indie-music darling he can find to sing on his latest album, Kaleidoscope (available in the U.S. on October 6th). Will it work?

Let's look at the album's roster. You've got Jónsi of Sigur Rós, Nelly Furtado, both Tegan and Sara, Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, Calvin Harris, The Cary Brothers, Kianna Alarid of Tilly and the Wall, Emily Haines, Sneaky Sound System, Priscilla Ahn, and CC Sheffield. Actually, you should feel a little put out that he didn't invite you to join him in the studio. Everyone else was there.

Some of the artists he's worked with before (check out his remix of Cary Bothers' "Ride" if you haven't already), but surely snagging this crowd of musicians to collaborate on original tunes for a trance album is a big victory for the genre.

Tiësto wants it all with this record. He brilliantly changes up his trance formula to fit the wide array of talent he's working with, but I don't think he goes quite far enough. The songs are too trance for American tastes, but perhaps too much of a departure for Tiësto's fans.

His constant morphing on the album is subtle and excellent, however. The Tegan and Sara contribution, "Feel it in My Bones," is perfectly crafted for their style of singing, their harmonies, and their vocal counterpoint. It's about as "rock" as I can imagine Tiësto getting, and Tegan and Sara might just want to adapt the tune for their own live show.

Nelly Furtado is supplied with a sticky sweet pop jam to sing her party lyrics over—"Don't take me home 'til the sun comes up." Jónsi gets some ambient soundscapes to wail over in the title song, and it's fun to here Kianna singing bubblegum pop lyrics over the boisterous dance track of "You Are My Diamond."

The Cary Brothers emote their brains out in "Here on Earth," as you'd expect, and Bloc Party's Okereke does the same over a sparkly piano track for "It's Not the Things You Say."

The duets are strong tunes, and to Tiësto's credit, they sound like original songs that were written in his own genre, rather than strong melodies that were simply remixed to include a trance track. And there's a whopping 11 of them. The album could have easily stood on the strength of those songs alone, but Tiësto crams in six instrumental tracks as well, which don't quite measure up overall. (Though La Ride is a good one, and is my favorite of the instrumentals.)

If we want to play with fractions and percentages, 12 good tracks out of 17 is quite a strong album. I'm not sure if Tiësto-the-duet-slut is going to conquer America with Kaleidoscope, but it sure is fun to listen to him try.

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