Tiesto | Kaleidoscope (Ultra)

cd_tiesto.gifEven after years of mastering unique beats and unconventional sounds, Tiesto is still trying his hand at something new.






Just released last month, Kaleidoscope is Tiesto’s first album release off his newest record label, Musical Freedom. The new label marks the next step for Tiesto, who is not just one of the largest DJs in the world, but arguably the largest DJ in the world. Hailing from the Netherlands, Tiesto has made clubbing across the world a lifechanging experience. In collaboration with the electronic dance label Ultra Records, Tiesto is spreading his new sound across North America and across the world in grand Tiesto style. With his record dropping in the middle of the North American leg of his world tour, Tiesto has set the bar higher than ever. As far back as July, BBC Radio 1 debuted the first single off the album, "I Will Be Here," and days later released the video on MySpace. With all the publicity surrounding the album and the world tour, it’s too soon to tell whether Tiesto will live up to the hype.

Kaleidoscope has already been met with mixed reviews, leaving some to say his newest release is nothing more than a commercial sell-out. Others are proclaiming it one of Tiesto’s best albums to date. With so many back-to-back collaborations and so many pop artists, it’s not surprising. Either way, the majority of the naysayers appear to be fans of Tiesto’s heavier techno/trance sound—none of which is featured on this album. Those who favor his more house/electronica style have found sanctuary in it. Having touched on so many different club genres in the past—house, electronica, techno, trance, etc.—it would be near impossible to please everyone. Hardcore techno and trance fans are looking for less lyrics and more monotonous tones, while electronica/house fans are looking for more rhythmic beats they can move to and sing along with. While the prior are claiming he’s selling out to commercialism and derailing from his roots, the latter claim this album is 100% pure Tiesto. Even with so many bigname artists attached to this album, I would venture to say the latter are right.

The opening track, "Kaleidoscope," featuring Jonsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros, foreshadows the ever-changing composition of the album. It takes around five and a half minutes 7before Tiesto makes his appearance; ironically, it takes half a second into track two to find the classic Tiesto sound. Whether rocking it electronica or downright techno, the sound of Tiesto varies but is one that can’t be mistaken. It’s not until the second track that the party seriously begins and you realize this is a real Tiesto album. The second track, and the second release off the album, "Escape Me," features the vocals of unbelievably sexy and risque C.C. Sheffield of Los Angeles band Le Rev. Tiesto’s hard-hitting, trouble-making beat with Sheffield’s femme fetale rocker chic vocals make for one massive track that will plant itself in your head for weeks to come.

It’s tracks like this and "Feel It in My Bones" with Canadian duo Tegan and Sara that bring back that nostalgic feeling of classic Tiesto while leaving you to experience an all new sound at the same time. Known more as a pop artist these days than for the club music he originally produced, Calvin Harris is one of the more well-known artists on the album. The third release, "Century," has a faster, optimistic club life sound, perfect for getting ready for a night out. For two artists who have had numerous number ones, how could this collaboration honestly not work? Other not-to-miss artists featured include Sneaky Sound System, Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, Emily Haines of Metric, Nelly Furtado, Cary Brothers, singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn, and Kianna, lead singer of Tilly and the Wall.

Even after years of mastering unique beats and unconventional sounds, Tiesto is still trying his hand at something new and the results, no matter however pop they may sound, are the result of his newest sound. While some may not like his new sound, it in no way compromises who he is. On the contrary, it is proof that Tiesto is still willing to pump out the new sounds that he’s famous for without fear of breaking from the norm. Instead of doing what’s safe and has worked before, he’s passionate enough to try something different. In an age where fans can be cynical and quick to label artists "sellouts," he’s throwing caution to the wind, gaining momentum and showing no signs of slowing down.

Obviously, with 11 out of 17 tracks featuring guests artists, the album ran the risk of pop overload and utter catastrophe. What followed, however, is a directory of some of the best artists the world has to offer, artists that have now become not only borderless but limitless in their talents, paving new ways for music in every direction, a sort of intersection where varying music genres meetincluding a place for pop. I, for one, have never understood why people feel the need to segregate the mainstream from the eclectic, and this album illustrates a new generation of music that is emerging from an artist not afraid to give pop a chance.

Several years in the making, Kaleidoscope is literally that: a hodgepodge of artists of various genres combined into one nonstop, amazing event in a jewel box. While the album does come across as a commercial gathering of some of the world’s most secular artists, track after track Tiesto still finds a way to keep control of the album, never letting the featured names overpower him for the hour that he has your attention. A | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: Sharam, Armin Van Buuren, David Guetta

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