Dance Review: Above & Beyond 'Anjunabeats Vol. 10'
EDM’s long-overdiscussed sweeping surge through America has meant increasingly regular visits from UK trance trio Above & Beyond, often bringing with along a posse of their high-grade prodcuers from the Anjunabeats label; Mat Zo, Arty, Andrew Bayer and Norin & Rad among others. With a slew of dates set for WMC, plus a new residency at Wynn Las Vegas, the arrival of Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats Vol. 10 also signaled a roar to the top of the iTunes Dance Charts; with it comes an eclectic beat that’s better geared for US audiences than ever before.
Dance music has a fascinating way of doubling back on itself. A few years back when Swedish House Mafia were overhauling their pop-step sound to prepare for world domination, they had the bright idea of plundering the uplifting melodies in the treasure chest of classic trance. If Anjunabeats Vol. 10 is any indication, things have come full circle again: trance is now taking inspiration from bigroom house. The 30 tracks here are all crammed with intricately produced house grooves, thundering electro basslines for some seriously heavy bottom end, while the melodies are as likely to convey a Daft Punk-esque sense of fun, as traditional trance euphoria.
The mix begins at a high tempo and stays there, but it’s a solid run of bangers. Sunny Lax’s Isla Margarita is about as perfect as a nu-trance tune can be, a divine example of the new and traditional elements coming together perfectly. Meanwhile, fresh faces Audien provide one of the compilation’s defining moments with Altara, a very housey effort indeed, though it still lets those trademark gorgeous Anjunabeats melodies shine through.
Above & Beyond's club mix of Alchemy with Zoe Johnston possibly ranks as one of the best vocal tracks the trio has worked on, and the trio also delivers a new instrumental in the form of Walter White that’s properly slamming, showing they're not afraid to let loose with a bit of sonic insanity. And the tunneling hook of Oliver Smith's Pressure chugs with maximum force.
The second disc boasts a raft of recognizable names like Arty, Andrew Bayer and Super8 & Tab, and there’s no shortage of heavy-impact tunes, spearheaded by Californians Norin & Rad who’ve calibrated their new torpedo Aldo for maximum impact. Genix is another extremely capable newcomer who shows Anjunabeats haven’t lost their knack for finding fresh talent. His collaboration with Lange, Immersion, is a real homerun; a joyful burst of melody that comes packaged with a heavy, techy grind. Bluestone also delivers one of the comp’s strongest tracks with Sinai; sporting a heavy buzzsaw of a bassline that’s chunky enough to nearly double as a guitar riff, while still manages a chorus with enough plenty of emotion.
Anjunabeats Vol. 10 is a release that’s bound to win Above & Beyond an even bigger legion of fans, though there’s also the potential it’ll disappoint the purists who’ve followed the label over the course of its history. However, it’s the evolution of the trance sound that delivers the impact here, with the records packing a heavier punch than anything across the Anjunabeats catalogue. Again, Above & Beyond show there’s creative life left in trance yet.