ABOVE & BEYOND, the renowned Grammy-nominated electronic act, have today, June 3, released their ACOUSTIC II album on Anjunabeats/Ultra Records. The highly-anticipated release, which made its debut at #1 on the iTunes Dance album chart, contains acoustic reinterpretations of numerous hits from the band's storied history, including "We're All We Need," "On My Way To Heaven," "No One On Earth" and "Blue Sky Action."
As the album hits release day, the band are preparing for two sold-out shows at the Sydney Opera House, the final gigs in a tour brimming with accomplishments. Across 19 shows, and with over 65,000 tickets sold, ABOVE & BEYOND to support Acoustic II created a first for dance music by bringing an 18-piece band to the world's most famous concert venues including the Royal Albert Hall, The Chicago Theatre and Berkeley, CA's Greek Theatre. The climax of the tour was a performance at the Hollywood Bowl during which JONO GRANT, TONY MCGUINNESS and PAAVO SILJAMÄKI played various instruments including rhodes, guitar and piano alongside a 32-piece orchestra. A complete list of shows from the tour is included below.
The recording process for ACOUSTIC II began in late summer 2015 as JONO, TONY and PAAVO once again got together with Leeds-based musical director Bob Bradley, who'd worked on 2014 release Acoustic, to assemble a new selection of songs with a view to reinventing and re-recording them.
Collaborators from the past decade returned for ACOUSTIC II, including three of the electronic world's most powerful vocalists: Zoë Johnston, Justine Suissa and Richard Bedford. The policy of featuring the original vocalists for each song also means appearances on the album for Gemma Hayes and Alex Vargas.
"With the first acoustic album, it was guitars, piano, strings and vocals that were the bare bones of what we were working with," adds band member PAAVO SILJAMÄKI. "This time around we thought: 'what other kinds of things can we do?' So brass is a really big player on Acoustic II. We added a lot of John Barry-esque brass horns. And we wondered what interesting things we could do with the voices, so there are a lot of choral and bigger vocal arrangements than on the first one. Really, this album is standing on the shoulders of the first one. If we'd have tried this then, it would have been overwhelming and too much for us to do."
Meanwhile, now through June 30, unsigned artists across the country can submit their cover of ABOVE & BEYOND's 2015 hit"Blue Sky Action" (which also appears on ACOUSTIC II) for Guitar Center presents Cover Me, an artist discovery program offering aspiring musicians the chance to take their careers to the next level. The program embodies Guitar Center's mission to support emerging musicians and present undiscovered artists with a shot at their big break. Submissions will be ranked on their social media engagement and fan growth throughout the submission period. The top-ranked 100 artists will be reviewed by ABOVE & BEYOND. In turn they will then handpick the winner who will receive studio time with the group in Las Vegas, NV, new gear from Pioneer, Roland, Sennheiser, Marq Lighting, QSC and 8DIO, as well as $10,000 cash. More info can be found at: guitarcenter.com/aboveandbeyond.
Factor in ABOVE & BEYOND's past touring accomplishments as DJs, which has seen them sell out The Forum and Madison Square Garden (in less than 12 hours), among many other marquee venues, their acoustic project A&B have underlined their status as one of the greatest acts in the history of dance music. It's rare enough to sell out these venues in a single format, but ABOVE & BEYOND have managed to bridge the gap between the world of DJs and bands and have proven that, first and foremost, their success is founded upon great songwriting.
Sung back at them by thousands at their celebratory DJ sets, the trio's tales of life, love and loss have sound-tracked weddings, proposals, hikes up Everest, marathons and funerals. Following on last year's critically acclaimed electronic album We Are All We Need, ACOUSTIC II features re-imagined versions of several of the best-loved songs from that album, alongside classics from ABOVE & BEYOND's extensive back catalogue. The music of ACOUSTIC II is made for concert halls rather than clubs; breathing new life and context into the songs that have made ABOVE & BEYOND famous.