For their latest (ad)venture, hosted to mark their 250th Group Therapy radio show, Above & Beyond had crystallised something that lay at the heart of everything they’ve achieved over their 17 years together. From developing that groundbreaking radio show to touring the world’s best clubs and most illustrious venues; from establishing a thriving, multi-artist label to building a peerless catalogue of artist albums; from creating iconic dance anthems to curating soulful acoustic rerubs, one thing stands out. That is: Above & Beyond have carved out a unique space in music and culture, one that reaches far beyond their electronic roots. In so doing, Jono, Paavo and Tony have created something special: a common ground where all sorts of people and ideas can come together. Celebration, kinship, community – it’s the A&B way.
Presenting, then, Common Ground. The trio’s fourth electronic album is the follow-up to 2015’s Grammy-nominated We Are All We Need, and comes in the wake of sell-out shows at totemic venues ranging from Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre to London’s O2. It features a quartet of guest vocalists, a couple of them longstanding members of the family, a couple of them valued newcomers. And it’s an album born from everything they’ve done so far, most recently the glorious Gorge happening and the band’s 2016 orchestral tour in support of their second acoustic album.
As they approach their 18-years-young birthday, Above & Beyond are refreshing their roots to reach new heights.
As Paavo says, “working with Richard for the first time in ages has that feeling of us looking back at our beginnings – and Northern Soul definitely covers again that happy-sad territory. It sounds like something really old and something really new mixed together.”
On Northern Soul, at least, the threesome are coming full circle. But as for the rest of Common Ground? On previous form, it’ll showcase Above & Beyond not so much circling as spiralling upwards, outwards and onwards – not least on the not-quite-completed Is It Love (1001) a track which features another brand new vocalist.
“Yeah, Jono sings that,” chuckles Tony, “which is something he’s never done before. He’s very, very critical of his own singing, but in terms of the music he likes to emulate, that Eighties pop thing, his voice is absolutely perfect on this.”
“I didn’t originally want to sing it, but the guys seemed to like it,” begins Jono by way of (humble) explanation. The backstory, he continues, is that the song was always meant to be a vocal track. “But the lovely folk at the offices at Anjunabeats rushed it to release, so it first came out as an instrumental. Musically, it’s a mix of synth pop with a strange combo of trance and almost a French disco feel to the crunchy claps in the chorus. I’d put some scratch vocal melody ideas down a long time ago, and then later we came back to it with Tony writing the lyrics to fit the melodies around my original ‘it’s the same way down’ demo lyric. I am a big Eighties synth pop fan,” he acknowledges, “so I wanted to do something with that kind of aesthetic.”
In its own small way, Is It Love (1001) and its deft, smartly realised vocal left-turn sums up again that A&B way. As Paavo cheerfully puts it in conclusion, “we do get bored quite quickly. When we’re busy and creative, we’re excited. And we want to remain excited, and that means moving sideways, moving forwards…”
And it means moving towards Common Ground.
Future Sound Asia are proud to announce that Above & Beyond will be returning once again to Kuala Lumpur for their ‘Common Ground’ tour on 4 May 2018 at KL Live. Tickets go on sale on 28 March 2018 at www.futuresoundasia.com.
Above & Beyond
Support acts TBA
Phase 1 – RM 110
Phase 2 – RM 130
Phase 3 – RM 150
VIP – RM 190
Ticket prices move to the next phase once the current phase sells out. All ticket phases are free standing general admission tickets except for VIP.
VIP tickets entitles you to:
• Designated VIP entry lane
• Access to upper level VIP area
• 2 x complimentary drinks