It was in the works for months, anticipated for years, and it’s finally here. With a hefty playlist of 21 tracks, Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeij dropped their album ‘Moons Of Jupiter’ under Gaia, today.

At first look, two things stand out.  None of the previous releases are included, like 4 Elements, Tuvan, Saint Vitus or Empire Of Hearts.  Not even as a bonus to the whole album, or reworked to fit the current  choice of sound.  Which is a shame, as those tracks made Gaia known in  the first place.  The other is the track length.  None of the tracks exceed the 5 minute mark, which makes featuring 21 tracks a bit less impressive, as it fits on one disc.  Still, there probably will be a lot of remixes or club versions in the future, so that doesn’t seem to be a big problem.

Enough of looking ahead, time to dive in and listen.  Two tracks in, you already start to sense this is something else.  A modern take on synth music, which could have come straight from the hands of the synthesizer grandmaster Jean-Michel Jarre.  It’s obvious the early tracks, and sounds used throughout are inspired on his work.  That, combined with a more trance  approach, leads to a sound that is both quite unique and daring to release nowadays.

The theme of the album revolves around 21 (out of 79) moons orbiting Jupiter. Which is why the album released today (June 21st) as well.  And the sounds used create a very spacious feel, complementing the whole setting.  The album feels like a journey in outer space, that you have to undergo completely to fully grasp the intended feels behind every creation.  As someone who used to like to play CDs on shuffle, that could be a downside, but with Ferry Corsten’s ‘Blueprint’ album I  already got used to undergo a journey from A-Z, instead of randomly playing it.  Moons Of Jupiter feels very cohesive, and undergoing the journey, I didn’t feel like hitting the skip button once, as I wanted to get the complete experience, which definitely is a good thing.

In terms of sounds, the album is revolutionary and daring. Especially taken into consideration that both Armin and Benno build their fan base (and the one for Gaia as well) on Trance mainly. The album sounds in no way like earlier Gaia releases, or anything Armin or Benno did before.  Fans that would expect another Tuvan or 4 Elements would probably be disappointed with most of this album. But that doesn’t seem what Gaia tries to achieve.  It’s a showcase of building a journey through  soundscapes. Also, it’s a showcase of mastering different styles, delivering a cross-genre production that feels like a lot of fun to make.  Removing boundaries to just create.  Armin definitely followed his motto ‘don’t be a prisoner of your own style’  here.  The album contains elements of 80’s Synth Music, hints to Progressive House that easily could be played out by Eric Prydz, Acid, Melodic Techno, Deep Progressive and Trance.

After listening the whole thing, there’s only one conclusion to make.  This album is a standout.  Wonderful craftsmanship of two people showing their musicality.  In no way did I lament the ommission of any vocal tracks or the old releases, as they would feel out of place in this setting (however, a bonus disc with those would’ve been nice, still…) Is this a Trance album?  For sure the answer is no.  Is it quality?  Absolutely!  Moons Of Jupiter probably isn’t what everyone was anticipating.  It’s much more. An unexpected gift that listeners should try to understand.  It takes an effort from the crowd.  It’s a breath of fresh air between all the template uplifting and big drop EDM currently dominating the scene.  

Tracks to listen to:
Ganymede is dark and feels like a throwback to the M.I.K.E./Push sound, done in a techy way.

Carpo was featured in the teaser video, and delivers a Jarre-esque lead, unusual rhythms and driving basslines.

Leda is the track that bridges from the downtempo start towards a more common trance feel.  The track could fit right in on the score of a SciFi movie.