Article | Onlythebeat

Above & Beyond's Acoustic Album will Take your Breath Away

Monday, January 27, 2014
Tony Apfelbeck

If you haven’t been following Above & Beyond closely, you may not be familiar with the elated anticipation I've been feeling about their upcoming Above & Beyond Acoustic Album release. On January 28th, I’ll be receiving my copy of what is sure to be a monolithic masterpiece and milestone in the history of music. Over the last few weeks, we've been getting teasers of some of the tracks the album will include on various radio shows like the acoustic versions of “Love is not Enough” and “Sun and Moon,” but we got a whole different kind of revelation of what to expect from this album with the release of the Full Concert Film of Above & Beyond live from Porchester Hall. Every single arrangement of each song and all of the theatrical aspects of the performance are done so artfully that this video radiates with a mesmerizing beauty. I was hypnotized in front of my TV as each note poured softly from my speakers and waves of emotions washed over me as I got to revisit my own deep and personal relationship with each of these songs. I want to write so much here about many of the sentiments and minor thoughts that came to me as I sat for this 83-minute reverie, however I hesitate to divulge it all on this page because I’d rather not modify your own experience with this video with expectations forged from the ingots of my words on the topic. What I do feel that I must share is that if you have a love for these artists and their art, you absolutely will not believe the awe-inspiring production that is this video. It should not be surprising to you to see that Jono, Tony, and Paavo are musicians of the highest caliber on a variety of instruments from vocals, to mandolin, to cello, piano, or rhodes. It is, however, a rare treat to see the elements of their artistry brought so diligently to the foreground as it is in the documentary of their acoustic performance. There are also volumes to be said for the talent of the musicians on stage that make up the band and the featured vocalists Zoë Johnston, Alex Vargas (singing the studio parts of Richard Bedford), and Annie Drury (singing the studio parts of Justine Suissa). Singing before a live audience is almost a completely different talent in the modern age of studio technology and these singers are breathtakingly talented on the stage. The musical direction of Bob Bradley and his attention to the minute flavors in the arrangement of each song bring to us brilliant effects like the percussion touches of a broom or fingers lightly snapping in front of a microphone. This kind of presentation perfects what I had mistakenly thought was already perfect when I’d heard it coming out of festival speakers, connected by cables to a mixer and an array of CDJs. Please don’t think that I mean to say that these arrangements of these songs are better or worse than those we all fell in love with at the beginning. There is no point in even attempting any comparison of this nature because the existence of this album is only additive; these arrangements are part of these songs. It's almost like we only had them in their first iteration as the night sky is to those who are not familiar with astronomy and workings of the cosmos. On its own, it is profoundly beautiful at first sight and yet, as we learn some about how it came to be composed and how each part interacts, our appreciation of its elegance and allure can only deepen. If you find such powerful meaning in these songs as I do and you have not found the time to watch this yet, do it. It is that simple. You may not realize it but you need to see and hear this. If you’re like me, make sure you also remember to grab the whole box of tissues before you start watching as well because it is an extraordinarily moving emotional journey. I can’t wait to expand my love for this music when I finally get my hands on the Above & Beyond Acoustic Album itself but for now, enjoy the heart-wrenching joy that comes with this video.