Anjunabeats: Bringing trance back
BEAT GENERATION - Moumen Daker () - July 18, 2008 - 12:00am

Remember back in the late ‘90s when trance was the hottest form of music to fill club floors? Names like Paul van Dyk, Robert Miles, Paul Oakenfold, ATB, Gouryella, Chicane, Sasha and John Digweed ruled clubs, raves, outdoor festivals, and of course dance enthusiasts’ CD players (iPods weren’t yet invented). They were that era’s heroes, spinning wondrous, beautiful music with buildups and swells that could lift listeners’ spirits up and take them way into orbit. Well, at least in their minds.

Now trance is ready for a rebirth, and its savior comes in the form of trio Above and Beyond and their brainchild, trance label Anjunabeats.

Anjunabeats was formed by Jonathan “Jono” Grant and Paavo Siljamäki in 1999 when they met as students at the University of Westminster. The two neophyte DJs promptly released the track Anjunabeats Volume 1, which went on to become a huge success in UK clubs. In 2000, producer Tony McGuinness took notice of the pair and approached them to help him make a remix of Home by Chakra. Thus, premier trance progenitors Above and Beyond were born.

Best known as uplifting trance melody-makers Above and Beyond, Jono, Tony, and Paavo have actually gone under many guises since they got together and are still dabbling in numerous side projects, all of which fall under the larger umbrella of Anjunabeats. Among their aliases are Oceanlab and Tranquility Base. Before Tony came on board, Jono and Paavo called themselves Anjunabeats, then later Free State when they decided to call their label by their first pseudonym. Dirt Devils is a Jono and Paavo side project while P.O.S. is Paavo’s solo venture. Other acts in which at least one member of Above and Beyond is involved are Nitromethane and Aalto. If you’ve heard of the acts Rollerball or Tongue of God, those are the same three guys, too. It’s a wonder how these guys never run out of personas, not to mention kick-ass material to go with their various incarnations.

Jono, Tony, and Paavo decided to expand the Anjunabeats brand by gathering an impressive mix of trance acts from Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Israel, Japan and elsewhere around the globe.

Here are some need-to-know Anjunabeats acts:

Super8 & Tab — Super8 and Tab are one of the main faces of Anjunabeats Worldwide. In addition to presenting the Anjunabeats Worldwide radio show, they also mixed the “Anjunabeats Worldwide Vol. 1” compilation with fellow Anjunabeats guy Mark Pledger, as well as headlined the Anjunabeats Worldwide Tour. The duo is set to visit Manila for the Godskitchen bash on August 8, 2008 at Makati Avenue’s A-Venue. For more information, visit www.super8andtab.com.

Kyau vs. Albert — These German DJs and producers are responsible for club hits Made of Sun, Velvet Morning, Walk Down, and Kiksu. Kyau and Albert have remixed tunes by Armin van Buuren, Kosheen, Gabriel & Dresden, and Oceanlab. They also manage their own label called Euphonic. For more on the pair, go to www.kyauandalbert.com.

Luminary — Luminary is UK producer Laurence Rapaccioli and American vocalist Ashley Tomberlin. Their first track, My World, appears on Tiesto’s “In Search of Sunrise 4” compilation, while their second single Wasting was featured on Armin van Buuren’s “A State Of Trance 2005” compilation album. Their debut Anjunabeats release Amsterdam scored a 5/5 rating in DJ Mag and topped Mixmag’s music chart.

Smith & Pledger — British producers Smith & Pledger was praised by Mixmag as “the best thing to happen in trance this year. Their single Believe was a massive club hit that made its way to Paul Oakenfold’s Radio 1 Ibiza Essential Mix show. They frequently spar in the studio with former Gatecrasher resident Matt Hardwick. To find out more, visit www.smithandpledger.com.

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Anjunabeats has released tracks and albums by other up-and-coming trance talents like Maor Levi, Rusch & Murray, Stephen J. Kroos, Boom Jinx, Endre, Lucas & Beltram, Aspekt, Mike Shiver, Menno de Jong, Alt+F4, Kaste, Carrie Skipper, Sunny Lax, Dan Stone, Daniel Kandi, Supermodels from Paris, Hawk and Cats & Sieja.

In 2005, Above and Beyond established Anjunadeep, an offshoot of the label that releases records that belong on the progressive end of the trance spectrum. James Grant, brother of Jono Grant, does A&R for Anjunadeep and also presents a monthly Anjunadeep edition on the Anjunabeats Worldwide radio show. Among the daughter label’s artists are Australian rising star Jaytech, whose recently released album “Everything is OK” was greeted with rave reviews by critics.

Anjunabeats is known for its excellent series of compilations, the latest of which is “Anjunabeats Vol. 5,” a two-disc electro-trance gem that includes contributions by Above and Beyond, Tranquility Base, Chunk & Twist, Jaytech, Joonas Hahmo, Maor Levi, and Super8 and Tab. It will be distributed by Activ8 Records here in the Philippines.

To further bring Anjunabeats’ trademark brand of soaring trance to a wider audience, Above and Beyond host the weekly Anjunabeats Radio program in the UK and present a weekly show on Ministry of Sound Radio called Trance Around the World.

In celebration of Anjunabeats’ 100th release this year, Above & Beyond, along with other Anjunabeats DJs, performed at a series of “Anjunabeach” parties that saw them thrilling trance fans in Goa, India, and Rio, Brazil. The celebration kicked off on December 28, 2007 in Candolim Beach, Goa, situated near label namesake Anjuna Beach, with 20,000 people in attendance. The tour then made its way to Barra de Tijuca beach in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, on January 1, 2008, where a staggering one million people showed up for the festivities.

The celebration didn’t end there. “Above and Beyond Anjunabeats 100,” a two-disc compilation mixed by the talented trio themselves, was released in March of this year. It boasts tracks by trance experts like Gabriel & Dresden, Above and Beyond with Andy Moor, Super8 & Tab, Oceanlab, Matt Hardwick, and Smith & Pledger. As an added treat for Anjunabeats fans, the bonus DVD From Goa to Rio is included in the package, presenting coverage of the Anjunabeach parties in India and Brazil as well as interviews with Tony, Jono, and Paavo. The CD-DVD set will soon be released by Activ8 Records.

Over the years, Anjunabeats has risen to become the most prolific trance outfit worldwide and was even hailed “the world’s most consistently good trance label” by dance authority DJ Mag. And why wouldn’t it be, if it weren’t for the sheer genius of the musical masters behind it? Above & Beyond hold a strong number six in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll, counting among their fans other dudes in the Top 10 like Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Paul van Dyk and Ferry Corsten. They garnered five nominations at this year’s International Dance Music Awards, among them Best Global DJ, Best Producer, and Best Dance Artist (group). Their debut artist album “Tri-State” was given a rarely endowed “Brilliant (5/5)” rating by DJ Mag and was acclaimed by The Sun, The UK’s largest-selling daily, as “one of the most original dance albums for years.”

If you’ve got label leaders like that, how can you go wrong?

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For comments and suggestions, feel free to email me at bigfish@bigfishmanila.com.

ABOVE AND BEYOND ANJUNABEATS COUNTRY PLACE REGION TRANCE
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