The legendary British Trance Trio are back with their latest offering ‘Common Ground’, their 6th Studio Album after their 2015 hit ‘We Are All We Need’. The album has been in works since early 2017 and this long break only testifies their hard work and passion in creating one of their finest full feature albums.
While we’ve already heard few of the singles on the record since Ultra 2017, there are many more gems we’ll talk about in this ‘in depth’ review. Above & Beyond firstly have a very different sound – Easy Trance. Well it’s extremely difficult in defining what ‘Trance’ actually sounds like, and that there’s a very fine line in Trance and Progressive house, the sheer number of Trance like elements featured in the productions rather permits to me genre-lize this album as Trance (Or at least a progressive form of it). Now that that’s cleared, let dive in.
The album starts off with one of the classiest intros ever, a phenomenal piece of orchestral sounds with lush fresh electronic elements which blends in rather organically into track 2 – ‘My Own Hymn’ featuring Zoe Johnston. Yes, this album features all of the vocalist from the last album – we just couldn’t ask for more! By now, the kick drums have already been triggered and the electronic side of Above & Beyond has thoroughly begun. As we move on to the track ‘Northern Soul’ released earlier last year as a single featuring Richard Bedford, it’s certain which direction this record is going to. That legendary Anjuna sound in a vocal club track is sheer bliss. Nothing harsh, no vulgar leads, just easy going Above & Beyond songs even your 80 year old grandma taps her foot too. All happy!
Justine Suissa provides angelic vocals on track 4 titled ‘Naked’. An emotional and powerful vocal track with a lot of Trance elements, undoubtedly the business side of the record. A club monster, okay maybe you’re an uplifting fan, but this track will not disappoint. ‘Sahara Love’ feat. Zoe Johnston is a very different track, sounds like an alternative Brit rock band, something like White Lies or Depeche Mode, emotional yet not sad, live bass guitars, spooky vocals and electronica. Tracks like ‘Happiness Amplified’, ‘Is It Love’, ‘Cold Feet’ are signature Above & Beyond club tracks. Euphoric, yet easy, dance on them, or sit back and enjoy – That’s the beauty of the entire record. It’s not just versatile in sound, it’s also is versatile in providing a mood based listener experience.
Marty Longstaff collaborates on ‘Tightrope’ also released as a single late last year. “Does anyone know?” – charted Beatport in almost the first week into it’s release is a pure sign of how loved the track has been, also providing a solid base for the album release. One of the clubbiest tracks on the album however is ‘Alright Now’ with Justine Suissa, easy yet energetic, groovy and euphoric! As deep/progressive ‘Bittersweet & Blue’ is, ‘Always’ feat Zoe Johnston is it’s polar opposite. A beautiful ballad with mesmerizing vocals creates an absolutely emotional track, placed strategically towards the album end, it’s the calm before the finale,
the outro – Common Ground. ‘Common Ground’ is an entirely non-vocal electronic outro feeling like it came out of Codlplay’s 2008 album – ‘Viva La Vida’. Pads, Church organs, swells and sequencers with a lot of ambience ultimately fading away, providing a true end to this album.
To sum it up, I personally feel it’s one of the best Above & Beyond albums in modern times and stands high up on the list of one of their greatest works, a true musical masterpiece, a genuinely complete and honest album. It’s going to be loved by new fans, old fans, and fans of the genre in general. I absolutely believe it’s one of the stronger albums released this year, but then again, 2018 has just begun. If we continue to be graced with such albums, 2017-2018 can be a turning point in the industry.