REVIEW: Above and Beyond – ‘Anjuna Beats Volume 9′
By: Jax Spike
Originality, quality, creativity, and innovation are terms one could use in describing the Anjunabeats compilation series from the famed trio of Above & Beyond (and the other musicians, producers, and record label owners that have been involved over the years). Previous Anjunabeats releases have had some really epic, uplifting moments and have set the standard in which most other compilation series should emulate and strive to be like. I personally count the sixth and seventh volumes of this amazing series as some of my all-time favorites and always look forward to each new release. With that being said, sometimes when you set the standard so high, you eventually fall short at times; that can be said, to a certain degree, with Anjunabeats Volume 9.
Now don’t get me wrong, this newest Anjunabeats release is chock full of great tracks, and Above & Beyond have provided a superbly-mixed listening experience. This album seem to have less epic moments than the previous releases. I am sure many of you remember the first time you heard such tracks like “Battery Life,” “Aurora,” “Madness,” or “Air for Life” from previous releases. Volume 9, though, still provides a very enjoyable experience from beginning to end, and you’ll never be tempted to skip forward to the next track.
Volume 9 comprises two discs; the first is the more laid back of the two, utilizing modern, melodic, and emotive sounds. It opens with the ambient track “Tokyo,” by Above & Beyond, which sets the progressive tone for the next few songs, including Breakfast’s “Median” and Andrew Bayer and Matt Lange’s “In and Out of Phase.” The set starts to pick up intensity and energy with another Above & Beyond-inspired track with the inclusion of the futuristic anthem “Formula Rossa,” before sliding into the electro-infused trancestep sound of “On Our Own” by Maor Levi and Bluestone. Toward the closing of the first set, we are introduced to the big room thunder of Genix’s “Higher State,” while Above and Beyond’s “You Got to Go” is remixed by Kyau and Albert into a lush, atmospheric trance opus that helps usher the end of the first set.
Disc two is the star in this set, filled with many high energy tracks made for the dance floor- especially the tracks from Mat Zo and Arty. The set starts with the techy electro drop of Zo’s “Electrified,” followed by the rock-like synths of “Bipolar.” The set continues to progress with the hypnotic sounds of Jaytech’s “Overdrive” and synth-frenzy of Nitrous Oxide’s “iPeople,” even though I do miss the more epic, uplifting style from “Aurora.” Andrew Bayer and Molly Bancroft’s “Secrets” is the best vocal track on this compilation, while Arty’s piano-driven “Kate” follows up nicely afterwards. What is arguably the defining moment of Anjunabeats 9 is the collaborative effort between Mat Zo and Arty on “Mozart.” This track picks up where “Rebound” and “Around the World” left off, with rattling percussion and staccato big room synths that creates an explosive funk-charged house fusion sound that cannot be denied. Genix makes a final appearance with Mike Koglin on the wobbly trance outro track “Dyno” that signals the end to this release.
While Anjunabeats Volume 9 may lack some of the luster of earlier volumes in the series, the mix and transitions between tracks are masterful and absolutely seamless, harmonious, and at times completely unnoticeable and very well thought-out from a technical and track selection standpoint. If you are looking for a more vocal-heavy and uplifting trance release, then get Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy from last year. Every track on this compilation series is really good and absolutely enjoyable; it’s a great addition to any trance and progressive lover’s collection.
Review copy provided by the record label.
CD released October 2011 on Anjuna Beats Records.