Electronic-dance music is known for dazzling audiovisual experiences featuring throbbing rhythms and pulsating lights.
But English trance and progressive-house group Above & Beyond, which co-headlines the annual “Resolution” New Year’s Eve party at WaMu Theater, will launch a new chapter in its career with the release of its first live acoustic album, titled “Above & Beyond Acoustic,” Jan. 28 on Ultra Music. A companion concert film will premiere Jan. 24 on Vice’s THUMP channel.
For members Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki, “Acoustic” will highlight a different side of the EDM group, which DJ Magazine has called “the biggest electronic DJ-ing and production collective the U.K. has ever produced.” The album re-imagines the trio’s most popular songs with a 15-piece band recorded live at London’s Porchester Hall.
“We started as musicians and then became DJs,” Grant said cheerfully in a phone call from London. “So to do something like this is almost more natural in some ways because it’s where we came from. Hopefully it’ll open us up to a wider audience.”
But Above & Beyond isn’t planning an acoustic segment at USC Events’ “Resolution” party, where the lineup includes Knife Party and a slew of other EDM artists. Instead, the trio will recreate the mind-blowing dreamscapes so popular with its legions of fans.
Grant and Siljamäki met in 1999 at London’s University of Westminster, where the two earned degrees in “commercial music,” i.e., the production and business of music. McGuinness, an executive for Warner Music Group, joined Grant and Siljamäki after recruiting them for a Chakra remix project in 2000. The trio quickly became masters of the remix, most famously for the Madonna single, “What It Feels Like for a Girl.”
Today, the trio operates two London-based electronic-dance music labels, Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep, and host a popular weekly show called Group Therapy Radio.
In October, the group introduced its new EDM single, “Mariana Trench,” to a crowd of more than 10,000 at London’s Alexandra Palace to celebrate the 50th episode of the radio show. The concert was dubbed ABGT050 and featured cameos by label mates Andrew Bayer, Arty, Boom Jinx and Guy J.
The mesmerizing “Mariana Trench” features intense electronic grooves and a haunting piano motif. (The “ABGT050 Aftermovie” can be viewed on Above & Beyond’s YouTube channel.)
Indeed, the trio’s songs often sound like movie soundtracks. Grant is a fan of the Bernard Herrmann scores for such Alfred Hitchcock movies as “Vertigo” and “Psycho,” as well as the 1976 Martin Scorsese film “Taxi Driver.”
“That to me is a classic,” Grant said of “Taxi Driver.” “Imagine watching that film with no music. It would be completely different. It wouldn’t have the sinister edge.”
In talking to the affable and ambitious Grant, it’s easy to forget the bad rap that EDM concerts sometimes get.
“Historically, this music came from raves, which were kind of lawless parties and now there’s a true business around dance music,” he said. “If you look back at rock ’n’ roll in the ’50s and ’60s, there was a similar atmosphere then. I think it’s sort of normal for society to view forward-thinking music as a bad thing.”
Above & Beyond, Knife Party and others
7 p.m. Tuesday at WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; $85 (800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com).