'Acoustic II' Out now: Anjunabeats.lnk.to/Acoustic2
What do you do after your third studio album hits Number One on the iTunes dance chart in 20 countries? After the accompanying tour sees you become the first British DJs to sell out New York’s Madison Square Garden – in fact, the first DJs from anywhere in the world to sell out both the legendary New York venue and The Forum in Los Angeles?
Where do you go after you sell 12,000 tickets in Sydney in one day, 12,000 tickets in Amsterdam on another day and raise over £200,000 for charity at a sold-out Wembley Arena show? After you’ve headlined stages at festivals everywhere, from Glastonbury to Creamfields, from Electric Daisy Carnival to Pukkelpop to Lollapalooza?
How do you top a global run of shows in 2015 that makes you the second-highest grossing electronic act in the US… but the only act of any nationality, in any genre, that can get Breaking Bad legend Bryan Cranston to join you onstage in Las Vegas and, you know, play along?
If you’re Above & Beyond, after all that, what next? You go acoustic. Specifically, you go Acoustic II and record a follow-up to your 2014 album, Acoustic, which was a stripped back reworking of some of the biggest songs from your catalogue. But because you’re Above & Beyond, a London-based trio for whom progress is everything, you go further, in every sense.
So for this second collection of re-imaginings of your songs, you record strings and brass at Abbey Road, and you present these wholly different productions in iconic global venues befitting Acoustic II’s ambitious, intimate-yet-expansive brilliance: the Royal Albert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, San Francisco's Greek Theatre, Sydney Opera House, New York's Beacon Theatre and the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu.
And you do that with a travelling party of 17 musicians – or, in the case of the Hollywood Bowl, you do it with the addition of 34 of Los Angeles’ finest classical players.
You are Above & Beyond, the UK’s most adventurous electronic band, and all of this is something only you can – or would – do.
Having spent much of 2015 touring We Are All We Need, Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki were keen to maintain the accelerated momentum created by their third album. Yes, they still had their weekly radio show Group Therapy, as well as two record labels (Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep), and their publishing company and management agency, to keep the trio busy. As Grant points out, “running a label and having a radio show naturally keep us in touch with what’s going on musically. If we didn’t have those we’d make music in the studio and that would be great, but we wouldn’t have so much context for it.”
But for a band who pride themselves on the song craft at the heart of their dance floor-friendly anthems, the untapped possibilities inherent in their music was a far bigger buzz – and challenge.
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Above & Beyond’s tracks