Man, I’ve been trying to write something about Above & Beyond‘s new album Tri-State for like a month now!
It’s the first full-length I’ve heard from them. And it’s decent. But here’s where I get bitchy.
What I love about Above & Beyond remixes are the crazy, over the top trance cliches! They’re so good at them! But no bathos-ridden, fake-string-section powerhouses are in effect on this album. It’s trance that lives up to the genre’s name.
Tri-State sets a mood, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I absolutely love Schiller‘s Tag und Nacht, and that’s pretty much an album long riff on the same chord progressions as Phil Collins‘s “In The Air Tonight”.
But Tri-State is hanging by a thinner thread. You can only get so sedate before you make Everything But The Girl sound like James Brown.
And I totally didn’t expect things to be this way! The Above & Beyond remixes of songs like Perpetuous Dreamer‘s “The Sound of Goodbye” and Ayumi Hamasaki‘s “M” are crazy good! And just plain crazy! They crash full speed into every trance cliche and keep going! They slice and stutter Ayu’s vocals into nonsense, making it unrecognizable even to native Japanese speakers. But it’s all done in the service of total trance bombast!
But there’s nothing bombastic about Tri-State. The closest things get are are on the album track for “Alone Tonight”, in which an unmistakably Above & Beyond synth riff breaks out just before vocalist Richard Bedford lets out a wail! But it sounds halfhearted; his pipes just aren’t Loleatta Holloway’s.
That’s what gave me my initial reviewer’s block. But then I came across the single edit for “Alone Tonight”—this track is a completely different animal! Remember that synth riff? The A&B boys keep it in, but hammer it into the single over and over again! The lackluster wailing no longer matters if it’s being washed out by powerhouse synthesizers! There’s almost no lead-in for the single, either; Bedford gets down to business right away, and he and the team are in and out in three and a half minutes. Nice work!
I feel better: Above & Beyond can still rock a single. I wish they would have let loose on Tri-State, but they provide over an hour of solid trance. I love it, but I’m also eagerly awaiting the next single….