Jono Grant, Tony McGuiness, and Paavo Siljamäki, together known as Above and Beyond, again take to their turntables. Polishing their sound on the group’s weekly radio show, Trance Around the World, the album they’ve created, Anjunadeep:01, is a double disc of progressive trance and house that encompasses a variety of styles with a house backbone full of builds and breaks.
The first track, from 16 Bit Lolitas, starts smoothly with progressive layers building up to an acapella line, “Da da da / Nobody seems to care,” which fits snugly into the song’s tempo. The entire first CD is a crescendo to an enthusiastic rapture. The mixing is done so seamlessly that it is difficult to discern one song from another, but that’s essentially what this album is about, the ride from start to finish.
The second CD begins darkly with the rhythmic dissonance of Komytea’s “Afghanistan.” The songs become dramatically more upbeat and danceable as the album continues with tracks like Radiohead’s “Reckoner,” a steady beat and bubbly synth rifts added to an enjoyable original, and concludes by bringing the energy back to baseline with Michael Cassette’s relaxing “Shadow’s Movement.”
Anjunadeep:01 isn’t all sunshine and smiles. The lack of vocals on the album leaves something to be desired, and some minimalist remixes are deficient to their originals. These maladies are minor considering the original sound Above & Beyond creates here, overall a strong product.
The progressive trance genre has been overused, but these guys breathe new life into it. Genre purists should be warned: this is not traditional A&B trance, but a hybrid of esoteric electronic music with their own personal style thrown in. In the end, Anjunadeep:01 is a stimulating journey.