As part of the buildup towards ABGT200, we thought it might be good to take a trip down memory lane to hear from one of our friends here at Submerge who’s a huge Above & Beyond fan himself. He’s been listening to them since they broadcast Trance around the World (TATW) on the radio, heard them live in India on their multiple tours and was there at Jayamahal Palace in Bangalore when Group Therapy Radio was born.
Ronnie’s a long time dance music fan, old-time forum member, certified trance head, compulsive ID tracker, and can with little difficulty list out tracks played in a set at gigs he’s attended years ago. Ronnie’s an ardent supporter of local upcoming artists and is very deeply invested in building the music scene in Hyderabad. When he’s not working, Ronnie also photographs at club gigs. If you’ve been at a party with Ronnie, you couldn’t have missed him thanks to his inimitable dance moves. It’s inspired his Twitter handle – RonnietheWalker. Go ahead and follow Ronnie on Twitter now.
The melody, the breakdown, the progressing synth and the rhythmic high-hat. The subconscious mind forcing my eyes to close and drift into a swirling whirlpool of sounds. It stuck to my head like a nail refusing to budge. With no internet access, my only way out was to come across a miracle to ID the track. And when it happened, I discovered them, but not their original track, but through a marvellous rework by a UK duo.
My journey of dance music started with Daft Punk and majorly Paul van Dyk. I was so fortunate to see him live in 2002 & 2004. I was curiously waiting for Politics Of Dancing Vol. 2 to release in 2005. So 11 years ago, when the compilation got released, 1 track that caught my undivided attention was Leama & Moor’s rework of ‘Getting Away’ by Above & Beyond. With the dearth of easy access to information, my only respite was attending gigs and trying to discover more of them. And then came the ‘No one on Earth’ which actually released in 2004. But my discovery was late but unstoppable. Certain more notable discoveries like ‘Surrender’ , ‘Air for Life’, ‘Razorfish’, Can’t Sleep’ and obviously ‘Alone Tonight’ got me on this most special musical journey of my life. An accidental discovery in 2005 made me a devoted follower of Above & Beyond and of course the iconic radio show Trance Around the World (TATW).
Above & Beyond has toured India numerous occasions but to me their 1st gig will always be special and the most memorable. I recollect Nikhil was conceptualizing a 2 day festival in 2007 (yes, it was 2 days back then) and was seeking inputs and support on the Submerge Forum. I still remember the moment when the flyer was posted and everyone on the thread pretty much lost their mind (in a good way that is). I was at work and the headliner Above & Beyond on Day-1 pretty much got me into tears. It was hard to believe it was actually happening in India. And then came the bigger announcement – One stage on Day 1 was dedicated for Anjunabeats. So that was my first ever visit to Goa; the first festival in India of that scale and such a line-up on Day-1. There were so many unexpected yet euphoric moments, like getting the original blue lanyard from Tony, a line-up to die for and programmed in the sequence below
- Stephane J Kroos
- James Grant (How I wish he starts touring again)
- Above & Beyond (4 hours set)
- Super8 & Tab
I managed to get CDs signed by Jono, Tony and Paavo. The set that evening, especially the moment, when the sun was going down behind the console — Countless moments of emo-rush — and mind you, we had no CO2 guns, confetti, LED walls, Fireworks,none of the stuff we’ve become accustomed to seeing at festivals now. It was just the music and your friends next to you. You must listen to TATW197 which was recorded from the gig. I’ve turned an avid record collector since and have ended up buying every record they released. To me, getting them signed has been such an accomplishment.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/184470950″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
So that was my first ever Above & Beyond gig and nothing ever comes close to that experience. It’s pretty much led to complete devotion apart from discovery. For me what sets Above & Beyond apart is the song writing. Somehow it resonates with every shade of emotion you may be experiencing. Take a tune like ‘Liquid Love’ (wonder it’s not spoken about much though),
Your love slips through my hands,
These streets like sinking sand,
Drowning in liquid love,
Rain down on me
The infused melody and the vocals of Richard Bedford (well, he isn’t just known for Sun & Moon) make it such a sublime tune. When ‘Satellite’ released in 2004, the lyrics became such a significant portion of my life and so did scores of other productions. If vocals and trance has to marry, they should be called Above & Beyond regardless if its Justine Suissa’s or Zoe’s or Ashley Tomberlin. ‘Sirens Of The Sea’ is undoubtedly one of the best albums ever made. And even if one has to take the vocals away, their tracks have such lasting memories in our minds. Be it the uplifting ‘Oceanic’, their project as Tranquillity Base or the more progressive ‘Razorfish’.
I was lucky to travel to all cities during Above & Beyond’s 2010 tour in India . It also happened to be the UDC finale by Submerge. Whether is was the Hyderabad gig where they dropped ‘Oceanic’ (well, I had never heard them play that track at any other gig), or Blue Frog Mumbai where they started with Mat Zo’s rework of ‘Thing called Love’, closed with ‘Satellite’ apart from the surprise encore ‘Filmic’ or at the legendary Fuga in Bangalore, where they premiered Arty’s new release ‘Zara’ and dropped ‘Buzz’, every gig, every moment was worth living for.
Above & Beyond are certainly iconic for everyone who has some way or other got associated with Trance at some point of time, whether you are a listener, an artist or a promoter. In India, Above & Beyond and Submerge are virtually synonyms for us. Right from 2007 till their very last tour and not to forget TATW450 (I always prefer TATW450 to ABGT001), Submerge has been the key differentiator to making sure the gig is an experience to remember. Every forum member, every crew member and every person involved with Submerge would likely agree with me on this. As many times as they have toured India, Submerge has ensured its been special for us as fans. In their new avatar, I do miss the classic Above & Beyond. Group Therapy has certainly opened doors for different shades of sounds apart from the signature Trance which is a great way of opening the doors to more listeners. Having said that, they will forever remain special to me for their signature sounds.
India has a unique connection with Above & Beyond, right from getting a Goan beach being a part of the label name to being the birthplace of Group Therapy Radio; they have certainly built an everlasting bond with their fans here. When you blend in a Submerge flavour to the entire concoction, all you get is lifelong supply of everlasting memories. It’s quite something when an artists of such stature open up their special doors to ardent fans who have to win their spot. Much appreciation for Submerge for making it happen. I don’t expect to win but I know
‘You’re a half a world away… But in my mind I whisper every single word you say’…
Follow Ronnie on Twitter