Above & Beyond are a phenomenon unlike any other in dance music. Grammy-nominated producers, they are the only British dance act to sell out Madison Square Garden as DJs, and yet are about to take an 18-piece band on a sold out tour of the world’s most iconic concert halls (including the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House and Hollywood Bowl) in support of ‘Acoustic II’, which is available now on Anjunabeats and Central Station. The Acoustic II studio album and accompanying tour – a show described by Billboard as “one of the finest in dance music history” – represents yet another against-the-odds landmark in the unique story of Above & Beyond. They are rewriting history as they go.
For Above & Beyond, the secret is in the songs. Sung back at them by thousands at their celebratory DJ sets, the trio’s tales of life, love and loss have sound tracked weddings, proposals, hikes up Everest, marathons and funerals – stories which are tweeted and emailed in to A&B HQ each week.
Following on last year’s critically acclaimed electronic album, ‘We Are All We Need’, ‘Acoustic II’ features reimagined versions of several of the best-loved songs from that album, alongside classics from Above & Beyond’s extensive back catalogue. The music of Acoustic II is made for concert halls rather than clubs; breathing new life and context into the songs that have made Above & Beyond famous. Under the supervision of musical director Bob Bradley and recorded at the Black Lodge in Leeds, the legendary trio have reworked a total of 13 tracks into rich, string-laden band arrangements that reference Portishead, Angelo Badalamenti and movie soundtracks with a uniquely Above & Beyond idiosyncrasy.
The Grammy-nominated title track from their last album, a collaboration with singer/songwriter Zoë Johnston, was an obvious choice. The addition of mandolin and ukulele was less obvious, but the instruments are an inspired addition to the orchestral-jazz rendering of ‘We Are All We Need’. ‘Sticky Fingers’, an album teaser single from 2013, is another standout, here re-rubbed into a stirring, swelling, 007-worthy love theme.
Also featured on the new album is an acoustic version of the new OceanLab (Above & Beyond’s alias with Justine Suissa) single ‘Another Chance’ – which is one of three songs available to download now as an instant grat when you pre-order the album, alongside ‘We Are All We Need’ and ‘Hello’.
For the album recordings, the decision was taken to feature the original vocalists on each track. As for the live shows, original vocalists Zoë Johnston and Justine Suissa are joined by newcomers Natalie Holmes and Cobi, while Jono, Tony and Paavo reach back into their own individual musical histories to perform different parts of the arrangements, including Jono on Rhodes, Tony on guitar and vocals, and Paavo on piano. Completing the ensemble, string quartets and percussion sections provide a big room feel of a completely different kind.
2. We’re All We Need
3. On My Way To Heaven
4. Save Me
5. All Over The World
6. No One On Earth
7. Black Room Boy
8. Peace Of Mind
9. Sticky Fingers
11. Counting Down The Days / Liquid Love
12. Blue Sky Action
13. Another Chance